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A trip to Angola.
Photo story - a trip to Angola.Some of the photos are mine, the rest I shamelessly lifted to give the reader some idea of the terrain, vegetation and roads, and what a terrorist base looks like. When the SADF attacked terrorist bases in 1978, their bases (called Moscow, Vietnam) had buildings and roads, and there were trenches around the perimeter. This resulted in such a massacre (over 1000 enemy were killed) that it was presented to the UN as a refugee camp that had been attacked. True there were many civilians in the base, but they were "wives" of soldiers, and their children. This caused the terrorists to build their bases underground, move regularly, and avoid detection from the air. Strict path discipline and limited daytime movement was enforced. Ops Smokeshell had embedded journalists to record and document the entire operation so that the accusation of murdering civilians could not be levelled at the invading force. (probably dissuaded SADF troops from getting up to any nonsense too) This worked as even though there were women killed in Smokeshell, they were in uniform and photographed where they fell. The order to move/bury the bodies was not given until the journalists had completed their job.
Photo story - The Spoils of War.Captured stuff. 100's of tons of Soviet weapons and equipment was captured. For 3 days after the battle, we loaded serviceable booty onto trucks for re-use (by 32 battalion and UNITA) and destroyed the rest. The base covered 65 square kilometers and consisted of bunkers and trench systems. As we headed back to SWA, the the anti-tank platoon was tasked with protecting the "Tiffies" (mechanics), and destroying or rendering unusable any captured vehicles that could not be repaired easily, or keep up with the convoy. Leaders. The SADF had learnt that to broadcast their side of the story before the enemy did. This resulted in press conferences and carefully prepared statements by the brass. Meanwhile, the fighting units had eaten, slept, bombed-up in Ondangwa and headed back into Angola to mop up any Smokeshell "refugees" who had escaped during the initial attack. Ten days later and at least another 1000 kilometers of sweeping the area west of the Smokeshell base, we headed home to "61" at Omuthiya. Losses. We had 2 Ratels shot out and 16 of our Brigade killed and 30+ wounded. Many more had been injured in accidents (broken arms, cuts)that are part of being around armored vehicles. The enemy base contained over 1000 personnel, body count was 200+ and many wounded that would die without medical attention. At the time it didn't feel like it was worth it, however this operation acchieved it's goals in terms of disrupting SWAPO and their insurgency capability.
Photo story - Second tour.Most of the photos are mine, after the first tour, we realized that it was possible to sneak our photos home and brought a cheap camera with us. The MPs missed Russian helmets (covered with SADF camo), AK bayonets (a prized item) and Chinese silk shirts. Don't ask me why, but most guys cut the sleeves off and wore them with jeans. I thought they looked kinda gay! Never underestimate a dumb troops ability to smuggle contraband! Unfortunately (maybe fortunately!), the second tour was not as exciting as the first. We patrolled the Kaokaveld, the vast desert-like region (just north west of the Etosha game reserve) that is dotted with salt-lakes. We had one drop-and-run trip, a helicopter was shot down near a MPLA base in Angola and 1 pilot had not been accounted for. We raced up the tarred road to Oshikati and waited for the order to cross into Angola to rescue the pilot. However, his capture-evasion training served him well and in 2 days he covered about 100kms and walked home! So we headed back to Omuthiya and resumed pouring concrete. Counting the days... Min dae! FEW DAYS!
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61 Mech motto: "Mobilitate Vincere" - Destruction of the enemy through mobility.