Monday, 26 May 2008

Snipers, grenades and booby-traps

06:00 wake up call.

06:30 breakfast with a few hundred recruits.

07:30 I fetch my helmet, a splinter jacket and hearing protection.




After a theory lesson, we're quickly assigned into teams: Alpha 1, Alpha 2, Bravo 1 and Bravo 2 and hit the road heading to Bonnland, a village in the Area of Separation. Our mission: exploring the village and gathering information. But as soon as we've approached the first villager and are about to strike up a conversation, sniper shots ring out.

For a split second I'm paralyzed: where did the shot come from? It's coming from the right. Where do I find protection? My three colleagues are already lying flat on the tarmac, I have the impression it takes ages until my body decides to move. The villagers now are nowhere to be seen.

We move on. A few hundred meters down, we turn right into a large square. We're a group of four, so we've divided the tasks: looking ahead, right, left and back. Suddenly a bright blue grenade lands right in front of our feet. I jump back two meters and find safety behind the corner of a house. In the real world it's difficult to say if I would have had enough time to actually jump these two meters - or whether I would only have survived throwing myself on the floor. What do you do when a grenade lands at your feet? My first thought was running away, but the best thing we're told to do is hit the ground to be less exposed - head facing down, arms over the head, mouth slightly open to cope with the pressure. Hmmmm.

Down at the other end of the square half a dozen young boys are playing football. The ball comes flying down my side, I kick and start talking to Mark, 18 years old. I can't say I'm really relaxed or even remotely listening to what the boy is telling me... I'm just waiting for the next explosion. And BANG I'm on the floor again, waiting to see what happens next. Silence. Then screams, "he's injured, he's injured... you have to come and help!!". Four boys are trying to push me over to the left. I'm torn, is it another trap? Should I help? And even if I wanted, I would have no clue what to do. The villagers are yelling and screaming for help, my colleagues are holding back, the situation is chaotic. We're all paralyzed.

And BANG another explosion goes off.

2 comments:

monique gruber 27 May 2008 at 00:22  

ca n aurait guere pu mieux tomber juste avant l excursion en Afrique du Sud ?! mais qui sait, peut etre qu apres cinq jours tu t engages dans l armee tellement ca te plait?
Bonne semaine, sans trop d adrenaline!

thorsten 28 May 2008 at 12:18  

I think I'd prefer to see you with a nice summer hat than with that helmet...

take care and all the best from Hanoi,

Thorsten

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