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FORK IN THE ROAD

I have only ever told my daughters about some of my army day stories, but here is one I feel I can share...
I can't recall the year or the name of the ops. But we were all prepared to cross the border and take on the enemy. I was a Ratel driver from 1SAI and we formed a part of the greater 61 Battalion. On this particular operation I had not been assigned to any of the fighting force section but being a disposable soutie I was assigned to driving the "Spook". For the uninformed, the Spook was the vehicle which drove in front of the entire Battalion. If there was a welcome gift planted by the terrorists, like an anti-tank mine or the like, the Spook would take care of it. This did not bother me in the least. I was leading a fighting force with hundreds of vehicles and thousands of troops into battle..
About an hour into the trip I came across a fork in the road. I had not been given a map, there was no such thing as GPS and the radio I had been given was useless. I decided to take the right. Within seconds all hell broke loose. I was under attack, a machine gun had put me in its sights and all all I could hear was the bullets bouncing off the buffet. The bullet proof glass next to my head began to disintegrate as bullet after bullet smashed into it. Without thinking I slammed my Buffet into reverse and floored it.

Immediately the shooting stopped. Realizing I was not dead and I could still hear, I released my safety belt and slowly lifter my head to look around. 
There standing proud was our convey commander, smoking browning machine gun in hand shouting at me...
"Vat die ander &^$^$#@ pad soutie."

I thought after that as I drove away, bring it on SWAPO, I am now ready for anything...
I was wrong...

My Girlfriend

We were so lucky. The army really looked after us. Besides clothing us, feeding us and teaching us lifelong lessons they also turning wimps into men and broke down those that thought they were too big for their boots. What a lot of people don’t know, especially those who did not serve, the army also issued each and every one of us with a girlfriend. Yes, a partner to sleep with in your sleeping bag. One who was always by your side no matter what you were doing and no matter where you were going. Mine was originally from Israel, she was short, only about a third of the height of what most of the other chaps got. She had been in the service for about as many years as I had been alive, I regret saying it but she was a bit worn out by previous troops that have had the pleasure of sharing her company. She was cold as steel at times, made a hell of a noise if you pushed the right buttons and at times she was smoking hot. To the army she was just a number. This little story is in remembrance of her, how she once saved my life and made me regret it for weeks thereafter. This might sound strange but she was black, she was petite, I called her My Baby, and I could never leave her.

She was a 9mm Parabellum, Israeli made UZI Sub-machine gun.

This story is about a night I spent with her which I will never forget. We all had our fair share of standing guard duty. Nothing like being woken up at two in the morning with your guard buddy to go stand in the pitch dark whilst every once else stayed snug and warm in there sleeping bags. My buddy and I had worked a scheme, we always opted to stand at the furthest post on the outskirts of the camp, the Ratel park. Firstly, it was too far for the officers to walk to check up on you and secondly, the main reason, the vehicle park had these massive rubber balloon type diesel storage tanks which made the most amazing water beds. Whilst one of us stood guard, the other would sneak in a good hour of perfect sleep. On this particular night the coin fell in my favour, I would snooze for the 1st hour. It was amazing, my sleep was so deep it felt like the entire hour had passed within only a couple of minutes. I began to stir as I felt my giant size water bed begin to move, I could feel the movement getting closer and closer but then it stopped. The smell then overtook everything else I was sensing, a smell which made my stomach turn, rotting meat, blood and warm air smothered my face and attacked my nostrils. I opened my eyes and stared straight into the eyes of a hyena. Its saliva was running out of it’s mouth and onto my neck and collar. As he lunged toward my bare neck, my muscles contracted and thank God my little black baby was in my hand. My hand clenched and as I squeezed her trigger, she let out the loudest noise ever and spat fire and lead into the night’s darkness. The hyena bolted and left me in one piece. As I watched it run into the darkness the entire sky lit up. Hearing my Uzi scream, the mortar chaps lit the sky up with daylight fares, machine guns started firing into the bush as the entire base thought we were under attack. Eventually a ceasefire command was given and everything returned back to “normal”. For everyone except me…The next morning, I was put on orders and had to explain my reckless behaviour. I was found guilty of the charge and for the next two weeks as everyone went about doing their own thing, I had to report for an hour to the parade ground. Waiting for me was a lovely Buffel tyre. For the next hour I had to flip it over and over and over again from one end of the parade ground to the other and then back again. As the sweat began to pour and the sand on the tyre mixed it created the most abrasive sand paper and grinding compound which just ate all the skin of my forearms, hand and chest as this monster was lifted by my ever reducing strength and smashed into the ground it raised clouds of dust into my air starving lungs. The hour would eventually end and I would have to put the tyre back in its place, and apologize to it for upsetting its resting time whilst washing and cleaning it. The routine for two weeks was then going to the medic tent after cleaning the beast and getting my hands and arms bandaged to stop the bleeding and to prevent infection from setting in. For these two weeks and a few weeks that followed, I hated that black bitch for saving my life…

But then on the other hand, if it were not for her, who would be here today to tell this story?

Charles Markotter

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