Somalia Medal The Canadian Airborne Regiment in Somalia
A Soldier's Journals
Monday, August 21, 2017  

Somalia '93




 

Sickness

9 January 93

The fever hit last night during the patrol. I wandered dazed through the shadows of town like in a half dream. Most of the time the pistol in my hand hung limply by my side instead of chasing movements in the shadows. Hallucinations haunted me like some surreal drug trip and my mind reeled at the horror that surrounds me.

Last night after the patrol, as we were going to ground, two paraflares went up and we stood-to. 20 men had been advancing on 32's position, but the light of the flares scared them away. Then this morning during stand-to, five shots were fired in rapid succession across the field from us. It is such a common occurrence now, nobody even really took notice.

After stand-to this morning, still in fever, I passed out in my trench for a few hours. The rest did me good, it is the most I've had in awhile.

Most of the refugees live in small huts made with sticks and covered with animal hides or sheets of plastic. They cook and sleep outside. The huts are surrounded by a fence made of thistle bushes like the ones we have erected around our perimeter in place of barbed wire. These fences are used to pen in their few goats, donkeys or sheep.

The farmers on the outskirts of town live in a more typical African hut made of interwoven sticks with a thatched roof. These are then sometimes plastered with mud or dung.

In town, the people live in the few remaining buildings, in the many ruins, in small shanties built up against the sides of walls, or just in the street. The whole town is littered with feces, garbage and the carcasses of dead animals. The stench of death and disease is overpowering at times, forcing you to gag.

The only sources of water in the town are the well and the muddy river water. Both are contaminated and a long walk for most of the people.

The temperature is well over 50o C (120o F) today and there is little wind. The sweat evaporates as fast as I produce it, yet everything I touch is soaked. My body is stained with the salt I sweat out, my head hurts from dehydration, we crawl into the shade and move as little as possible.  It has been abnormally hot the past few days, too hot to sleep on this quiet afternoon. So instead I washed my underwear and socks with the bit of extra water we have been given and stripped down to my shorts to air out my tired body.

 

Tonight, after the sun goes down, we will fill sandbags to re-enforce our position. I only have one, two hour shift tonight. Maybe I can sleep for once.

11 January 93

What a rough couple of days. The 'cold' led to heat exhaustion and I felt like I would die. I had all the symptoms, headache, exhaustion, dizziness, muscle cramps, nausea, diarrhea, loss of appetite and hot and cold spells. Im staying in the shade for the entire day today, if I can, and am starting to feel better.

Jacob is going back to Canada. He was returned to his platoon, but he soon lost it again, so they are taking no more chances. Mike Hunter is another stress casualty. He got married just before he came over to a woman hed only known a few weeks. He is now having marital problems and stress has taken its toll. We also have many heat and diarrhea related casualties, but most of us are staying in the field.

One of the Somali kids snuck past the thorn barriers and stole Lt Webbs carry on bag with his CD player. We got the bag back and a couple of the things in it, but the CD player is missing.  Womacks wallet has also been stolen.  $100 and credit cards also missing.  People are starting to get pissed off at the kids.  Someone has already shot a Somali who came at him with a knife. It wont be the last as tensions are rising between us and the villagers.

12 January 93

Whatever I have, it won't leave me alone. The diarrhea has gotten severe and is quickly draining me of energy. I am losing fluids faster than I can replace them, it is keeping me up all night and I still can't eat. I'm exhausted. I am barely strong enough to walk to the latrine, having to sit and rest numerous times on the trip. Usually I have to turn around and head back again before I even get back to my trench. Often I don't make it and am living in my own filth.  The medics gave me pills to slow up the shits. If it hasn't gone away by tomorrow they will evacuate me to the med-station.  It is one in the afternoon, I have taken all the pills the medics gave me and it has not helped one bit. I've already shit myself three times. Im miserable.

13 January 93

I have lost a noticeable amount of weight in the past few days. My fingers are so much smaller that my once tight ring falls right off and the flab on my stomach is gone. The medics think I have dysentery. I don't even really know what that is or how bad it is. Maybe I'll find out more tomorrow.  I have been going to the washroom less frequently today, but the cramps have been bad. I still have no appetite even though and I'm wasting away.  The pills did some measure of good in that they reduced the frequency of my shits enough that I could get a few hours of sleep last night. The sleep did me good and I feel a bit better today. The main difference is that I am not so weak which in itself is a world of difference.

Ifraa returned again last evening wearing her good cloths. She is so shy and bashful, hiding behind her friends and running away whenever I look at her.  I'm glad to see her again, I was beginning to worry about her.

Okerlund had a bag stolen from his trench today. He lost his camcorder, tapes, beret, passport, camera, etc. All that has been returned so far is his passport.

An old man brought his sick young child to us the other day. The child has TB, but there is nothing any of us can do. The child will be dead soon.

News from this evening's O'group:  C/S 8 is no longer allowed to have mags on their weapons because they've had so many accidental discharges. A few days ago an RCD officer shot himself in the arm while cleaning his pistol. A marine was killed in an ambush in Mogadishu today or yesterday. Also we have been informed that the bandits have moved back into Beled Weyne.

14 January 93

We are moving to the main camp this morning, filling in nearly all of our trenches and only leaving one platoon to secure the airstrip.

There was a great deal of gunfire in the village all through the night. Maybe they are right about the return of the bandits. I wonder what it could mean for us.

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