Just a 'Tiffy'
His a quiet man keeps his thoughts and memories locked up. But if you look hard and long enough you see shadows playing in his intense blue eyes and you can't help but wonder: what he has seen, will he give you a glimpse of what is going on in his memories...
He starts telling me about taking up a convoy of "samels" "buffels" "horse and trailers to battalion 32. The long never ending road that just keeps on going with no turns just a straight road to nowhere. Temperatures rising so high that the tar actually melts. The heat waves and dust devils playing tricks with your mind. 60 km/pH from 6am to 6pm, they weren't allowed to travel faster in a convoy and only between those hours. It was soul crushing bone crushing hours but you did it. With a sly grin he tells me how they broke up in to smaller groups so they can travel faster. Precision planning about how many km between you and the next group, when and where you all will meet up again.
Eventually getting to 32. Seeing the old hands of 32 how they walked around scared the beju out of the newly inlisted troops. Asking an old hand where's the latrine just to hear "what you don't like me?" There and then you learn to hold and look for relief somewhere else close by your friends who came up with you.
You couldn't help but to admire them... respect them they were all able to react in a mili-second. What they've been through you still have to learn. Nearly had a heart attack seeing them sleeping on top of life ammo you can't help to wonder will I be this non chalant with my life in days to come...
In the middle of the basis the honor tree we weren't allowed to take photos but what the hell you sneak a photo or two. (photo incl)
He tells me about flying for the first time in his life. In a "vlossie" it was something watching those cables as the pilots operate them. Hearing from the sergeant the camp you are flying to was "hit" and you can't keep your eyes from the coffins in the corner. Wondering if you will watch the cables again on the return flight or be a statistic in one of those coffins. You try your best to distract one another but in the end we were all quiet busy with our own thoughts.
Then word comes down we are going in fast and hard be prepared...
Prepared for what!!!?? Your stomach fall through your ass as the pilot nose dive in for a landing. Still wondering wtf happened to your stomach you get yelled at "move soldier!!" and you move you don't ask questions you react just like you were trained. React never ask just react. You forget about your stomach that's still missing, you forget about the caskets in the corner... You survive.
You learn to avoid the patrols coming in, you follow orders you eat you shit you sleep, repeat everyday all day.
Your time living on edge comes to halt faster than you thought. And you find yourself on the "vlossie" watching the cables, trying not to think of the flag draped caskets. It might be one you knew it could have been you. And you feel guilty for feeling relieved that you can see state side again.
Had a convoy hit full contact. Opening those "ratels" it's a smell you'll never forget. Feeling the tears in your eyes reflecting in the other "tiffies" eyes as you find a wedding ring with a date, a boot with a foot tears you apart, but you carry on you don't talk about it, ever, tonight you just drink a bit harder. Tomorrow you follow orders again...
Q. How do you feel now about the war?
A. Proud I did answer my countries call. Still don't know Why or for What but I followed my orders. I was lucky I survived.
Q. Was and is your country there for you now and then??
A. In the beginning yes. But now it's as if it never happened. You talk about it people frown walk away. Nobody hears our side.
Q. How does it make you feel being ridiculed by the youth and young adults??
A. It hurts... Most of them don't have respect for anything not even themselves. They just demand, don't know how it feels to take a command.
Q. How do you cope with your nightmares your health issues ??
A. We have nowhere to go no medical support so we survive just like then. We survive just each in their own way we cope we don't talk we still follow orders.
Q. Do you still think about those caskets??
A. Yes and I still wonder WHY?? for WHAT??