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Dec 5

Written by: Dino Estevao
2013/12/05 10:19 PM  RssIcon


Omauni was my first stop from Oshakati military hospital. The Buffel, a military vehicle rolled out of the hospital yard, stopping briefly at the gate for a routine check by the guards, then opening the gate and the vehicle drove away. Leaving the comfort and safe haven that the hospital offer me during my stay. The drive was slow and each passenger kept to himself, praying and hoping that the vehicle did not drive over a landmine or came under attack.(that was the state of being then)
    Our arrival at Omauni brought a sigh of relief and breathing to normal. The buffel came to stop and everyone reached for their military gear and climbed off to parade or a quick gathering and administration. Being the only none military personnel I took my bag and stood aside, waiting for Tito Appolinario. He knew his way around the place, after the gathering we marched to a far end part to a tent where he was received in a warm comradely reception. Here I was issued with a sleeping bag and couple of boxes of ration packs(rat pack) that made me chewing sweets throughout the night. I was to understand later that this is the place near the Angolan border, used as a springboard to attacks Angola. Perhaps this is the closest that I have come to my home town. However for few days this was to become a home, the home that I was later to hear and read about atrocities and cruel tales not only to those across the border but also to its own. “To re enforce and strengthen the myth and legends of a fierce warrior you have to slaughter, even your own. To be ruthless is to command and to be merciless, cruel will make you stronger and invincible…” when this statement is translated literally as history of the men and wars has showed us, the result is execution of man by their own, especially for those soldiering in the grey area.
I was the only child and did not come across any child during my stay at Omauni. Most of the time I kept to myself and seems that every second soldier that I met gave me a pair of dark blue shorts and light blue t/shirt which was the school uniform in Angola that they brought from that part of the world. Although the gesture was most welcome, ek was al gat met die klere. Soldiers come and soldiers went on regularly. Those that came was to resupply and break. (Come to think of it, now. the all set up looks like a scene from the series of ‘sending Vietnam’ with the red sand and without American accent.)
   After few days at Omauni we were told to prepare that our transport will arrive any time. I rolled the sleeping bag and handed back to the owner and thanked everyone for letting me stay with them. The soldiers also wished me a save journey and hope to meet again when they returned to Buffalo.
The transport arrived in a form of helicopter, it hardly landed on sand ground like hill when the passengers started jumping out like bats. Soon the passengers that were to board started running towards the helicopter. I heard Tito Apolinario shouting over the sound of the Omadakadaka, “corre, Dino!” as everyone charged towards the helicopter. I struggled to keep up and soon I was few meters behind, until I could only see shadows like silhouette moving through the dust into monster with the rotors like blades hovering over their heads. Almost decapitating them, but nonetheless I was behind. As I came nearer the wind and sand generated by the revolving rotors started pushing me backward until I could no longer move forward and the giant blade missed my head again and again. I ran back to a safer distance and turn to the helicopter. I stared hard through the dust and then charged again towards the target but I was met with the same resistance, frustrated and in tears I with drew to a safer distance again. This time I could see everyone in the helicopter looking at me and the helicopter like a monster with tentacles revolving faster every time creating a strong wind like cyclone that was chancing me away. That’s it, I told myself. The only two persons that I knew and were given instruction to ensure that I arrive safely to my new home were now on the other side, inside the belly of the helicopter… between us was the hovering rotors that viciously threaten to decapitate me should I attempt to follow them. It was challenging me, this time I sized up the beast. Like a young bull, I charged with all the strength that I could muster, harder and desperate, crying I ran and ran and ran harder. But halfway I felt a strong hand lifting me and advanced in a rapidity of those who board helicopters for breakfast and threw me into the belly of the helicopter. I got your back, son… as the soldier who came to my rescue ran back to join his comrades. Immediately, I took up my seat and dusted off the tears and sand from my face, putting up a brave face while cursing that they have not make this “children friendly”. The helicopter took off and so my journey in search for a home continues. Next stop… Grootfontein!   
Grootfontein was a contrast to Oumani. Here there helicopter landed and the engine died, bringing its rotors like decapitating blades to a complete stop, before we could disembark on a dark grey asphalt. I have been at Grootfontein before, three times but every time I was in a stretcher. All three surgeries to restore my legs and mobility have been done at Grootfontein. Everytime driving in ambulance through the rough road between Oshakiti and Ondangwa, then flying from Ondangwa to Grootfontein and back after each surgery. But now i planted my two feet on the soil of Oshivanda (Grootfontein) but did not have a cooking clue where the hospital was.
My two companions and I were driven to a building where we were to wait for the next transport. Tito Apolinario and I were housed in a bungalow neatly layout with beds, later an elderly soldier came and led us into a neat dining hall and the meal was served in most civil and respectful course. The other men that joined us for diner were of advanced age and carried themselves in courteous and orderly as they acknowledged each other around the table. I was to learn much later, that we were dined by senior non commissioned officers and such a reception is reserved to few. The dining hall was reserved for sergeant majors and staff sergeants. Tito Apolinario was a mere lance corporal and my other companion was whisked away on our arrival, to the officer’s bungalow because he was a lieutenant. After diner we were entertained with refreshment and retired to our beds.
My journey in search for a home continues...



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Recent Blog Comments
Re: 23rd of August 1978 01h15 I remember it distinctly.
Remember that night and still hear the Red Eyes flying.
By Coenie (Sdpikes) Groenewald0 on: Sunday, November 22, 2020
Re: 23rd of August 1978 01h15 I remember it distinctly.
Hi Alistair, I have set up a Facebook page titled '3 SA Infantry B Company 1977 - 1978'. Feel free to check it out and join up. This applies to anyone else that may be interested. Thanks.
By Hugh L Hudson on: Saturday, October 31, 2020
Re: Exclusive Photo Gallery of Operation Protea added
I was at Ladysmith 5 SAI from July 1980 and was a rifleman in OPS Protea went through Ondjiva Xangongo and Pupu And was hoping to get some photos I could recognise I was in Charlie company i
By Steve Emond on: Monday, October 19, 2020
Re: 23rd of August 1978 01h15 asking for more info and pictures of the incident
We want to do a short film about Katima and would like to have more information about the town of Katima and also your thoughts on what you think shaped the region
By frank Tapira on: Tuesday, September 01, 2020
Re: 23rd of August 1978 01h15 I remember it distinctly.
I was in the mortar platoon of B Company 3 SAI based in Wenela. We, along with all others, returned fire across the cutline at Katima Zambia. I will always remember this day, like any veteran remembers as one filled with noise, but you did your job. I don't have nightmares, I remember and honour those we lost.
By Alistair Jameson on: Monday, August 24, 2020
Re: Photo Gallery of Operation Sceptic (Smokeshell) added
Die beste is maar om vir my die fotos en jou stories per epos aan te stuur na johan@warinangola.com. Die WarBlogs is 'n heeltemal aparte portaal van die www.warinangola.com een, maar as jy daar geregistreer is kan ek altyd hier ook 'n rekening met dieselfde besonderhere skep... Laat my maar net weet. Ek kom net so eenmaal 'n maand hier om gou op te vang, terwyl ek elke dag op die War In Angola portaal is.
By SuperUser Account on: Friday, October 25, 2019
Re: Photo Gallery of Operation Sceptic (Smokeshell) added
Hi johan ek het probeer regestreer.Kan nie inkom nie was ook daar saam vegroep 3 ons bev was j Jacobs het ook n paar fotos wat ek graag sal wil opsit het ook n foto van ons bev. laat weet wat ek moet doen is nie rekenaar vaardig nie kan my sel net net help. groete
By A H Du Plessis on: Monday, September 30, 2019
Re: 23rd of August 1978 01h15 I remember it distinctly.
41years later. Remember Lorry Lesch my driver, Erasmus Alpa gunner. Scary and prepare us for more later.
By Danie Rousseau on: Friday, August 23, 2019
Re: Operation Savannah
Will there be another reunion .?
By Jack on: Thursday, April 04, 2019
Re: 23rd of August 1978 01h15 I remember it distinctly.
Was a gunner in that attack . Was in 1SSB and slept in the isle on that night, in the bungalow .Ran out of the bungalow after first red eye was shot
Slept in a bunker after that attack.Still have nightmares about that attack.
By Barry Callaghan on: Tuesday, April 02, 2019
Re: An SADF Conscript Remembers the Early 70s – Part One
hi to all
just wandering if any of you served with my dad , Derick Anthony Beard on the Angola border in the 70s .
he was in the Kaffrarian rifles unit according to my mom
My Dad passed away in 2016 August and would like to find out more about his amry days
By Bruce Berad on: Thursday, January 10, 2019
Re: The outbreak for the border war
This is a great information about the history you put in here. thank you go to website
By Chris on: Sunday, December 16, 2018
1980 camp in katimo
My last 3 month camp in Katimo in 1980 after doing stints all over swa was the best of all. Slept in a bunker next to the river spying on the pont that was crossing over the zambesi river.cathing tigers in the river .
Would love to return to that erea of the world.
By Gordon Rudman on: Tuesday, October 16, 2018
I used to be able to log in but can’t do so any more.
Johan can you assist.
Thank you
By Rocky Marsicano on: Saturday, September 08, 2018
Re: An SADF Conscript Remembers the Early 70s – Part One
Very interesting read. I was also a Durban 1973 intake ( may 1973 to 4 SAI ) My experience of the whole 'boertjie - soutie ' thing was a little different. Right in the beginning there was a bit of " Wat kyk jy jou blerrie Engelsman" / " What's your problem clutchplate / dutchman" but I would say that by halfway through basic that had gone almost completely. The platoon I was in after basic was probably 70 % English 30 % Afrikaans but in reality there was no distinction at all among us. Our platoon had an Afrikaans lieutenant , the other two platoons in the company had English speaking lieutenants . There was not a man in either of those two platoons who would not have jumped at the chance to join our platoon. It sounds like a stupid war cliche but we really would have followed that man into hell and back. We loved that man and would have done anything he asked. He never shouted at us to do anything . Only ever asked and it was done. Just before we went to the border we lost him. He had to go home on compassionate leave and he never rejoined us. We all felt like we had lost a father. And here is the thing. He was also just a DP like us who started off the year before us and naturally being degreed was older than most of us. Anyway that was my experience. One other little thing. You mentioned that they were not allowed to hit you ?. No-one told the PTI's or PF instructors that at 4 SAL lol . I had the shit kicked out of me on the shooting range so hard I fell beneath the 'skietpunt'. When I clambered back the staff sgt inquired in a faux concerned way ' Het meneer seer gekry ?. Will meneer n klagte afle ?. Moet ek vir meneer n vormpie gaan haal. ??. I just managed to stammer 'Nee staff' to all three questions. I had stood up and turned around after getting a stoppage and got the man's point. Anyway this is your blog not mine. Thanks for your blog.
By john jones on: Monday, August 06, 2018