I've had very little connectivity the last while, which is why my deafening silence.
I'm back in Sake Base after a short but eventful deployment to the Kiwanja/Rutshuru area. Those of you don't know what happened there, Darren has written a nice piece about it where you can find out what happened without me running afoul of Defence Intelligence.
We lost the Tanzanian SF Loot who commanded the SF platoon detached to us. That was very sad, he was an intelligent, erudite guy who was very professional. We chatted the night before while we were waiting for the evening order group, and I teased him that after this deployment I would see him when he was a general, like the current FIB commander. He got a strange look on his face and said to me quietly, "If I survive that long.". The next day, 27 Oct, at 11H10, he was KIA. When I removed his helmet so I could zip his bodybag closed, I saw that one round had been deflected by the helmet, and a second had penetrated under the helmet just under his left ear.
We had a memorial parade the next day. It was mostly spoilt by the media contingent and political statements which diverted attention from why we were there.
I wrote the following for the BN Commander to read:
" Special Guests, Officers, Warrant Officers, NCOs and men on parade.
We stand here today knowing that we have lost a brother in arms, a comrade.
I feel though that he is still here with us because he lives on in our memories, thoughts and in our hearts.
Lt Mlima was proud to be a soldier. Proud of the fact that he was serving his country and knew that his family was proud of him too.
I am happy that I had the chance to serve with him, even though we were from different countries, we were united by our service with the United Nations. I know that all of you were just as happy to serve with him and will feel his loss every day.
Lt Mlima's name will go onto the Roll of Honour and we soldiers will remember him for as long as there is an army and beyond.
He will be buried with full military honours in acknowledgement of the fact that he died while serving his country and his fellow soldiers.
At this time, we must think of his family and friends who have to deal with the pain of his loss at the same time as we mourn the loss of a fellow soldier and comrade.
I would like to request that you all hold a place in your hearts for him and his loved ones.
They shall not grow old,
as we who are left grow old.
At the going down of the sun,
And in the Morning,
We will remember him."
I found this online which I thought was appropriate:
" THE SOLDIER
I was that which others did not want to be.
I went where others feared to go,
and did that which others failed to do.
I asked nothing from those who gave nothing,
and reluctantly accepted the
thought of eternal loneliness...should I fall.
I have seen the face of terror;
felt the stinging cold of fear;
and enjoyed the sweet taste of a moment's love.
I have cried, pained and hoped...
But most of all I have lived times that others say were best forgotten.
At least someday, I will be able to say that
I was proud of what I was.........
I want to thank those of you who have sent me messages of support etc. They are much appreciated. Even if I haven't replied to you, know that I read each message and they help to remind me that there is still a normal life going on back in the world!
This deployment has reminded me that the quintessential mantra of the soldier has to be "Embrace the Suck"... ;)
All the best,