Roofie ... Rookie ... Someone that has just started training.
Blougat ... Blue Bottom ... Someone who has had his backside whipped into shape but still doesnt know anything.
Ou Man ... Old Man ... Someone that knows the ropes.
During my tours to the border, Life was actually quite boring at times. 24 hours on and 48 hours off, gave you a weekend off after every one day of work. Lets face it, you could only play so many games of volley ball and one could only empty so many clips on the target range in a month. For the rest, a weekend after each working day became a bit much. I would take myself some things to keep me busy on subsequent tours, and I would also sit in the bar (which was closed till 16h30 each day), but there were easy chairs and I could sit and read in the shade of the big camel thorn tree. I could always score a coffee or tea, and there was water and cold drinks available, so it was kind of like a comfy place to chill. Lets face it, you could only take so much of the faces in your section, and they were all busy ... while I hung out with nothing to do. So, I would 'get lost' for 2 days at a time.
We had a little 'off duty' crowd that hung out in the bar, even if it was closed. We would play chess or poker or some or other pursuit till we got tired of that as well. Then, every now and then, we would hear the C130 coming in bringing in new faces from the states, so we would meander off to 'customs' to see if any of the new faces were familiar or whatever.
Ondangwa customs was a big hangar, which was the arrivals hall for arrivals, and the departures hall for departures. The MP's were the 'customs' officials and they would check bags for illegal ammo or weapons being smuggled back to the states.
So, we would drift on up and chat with the MP's for lack of anything better to do while the C130 taxied in and parked, then opened the cargo door at the back and the people started getting out and walking into arrivals.
And in would come all the 'blougatte' (blue bottoms). Fresh meat for the 'ou manne' (Old Men) that's us. And their wide eyed nervous disposition, looking around at us in our dusty, weather-beaten, faded browns wearing, hadn't bathed in 3 days, 9 mils slung on the hips western style, hand grenade pins in the hat band, camel smoking bunch of us ... and the choppers with machine guns and god knows what all parked over yonder ... if we had just whispered 'boo' they would have jumped clean out of their skins ... Well this timid bunch were just asking to get fucked with weren't they ... So, we fucked with them a bit.
But, one day ... one day ... things got away from us ... kind of like a snowball that starts off small ... and then it gets beyond your control ... and then there is nought you can do but watch as is smashes a path of destruction through all that stands in its way ... and the best you can do is just quietly evaporate and hope that no one recalls having seen you playing with snowballs.
This was to be one of those days ....
The off duty crew were in the lapa. The night shift guards, the medic, myself, the chef and one or two others ... and me. And it was nearing that time of the day when the 'flossie' (C130) would come in with its fresh delivery, and we had been chucking ideas around for a week as to how to get maximum effect from the least effort without landing ourselves in the dwang.
So, there we are, our ragged dusty selves in very shabby attire and we make ourselves up a bit and set off to do an amateur theatrics presentation at the arrivals hall.
Now, let me lay out the scene. We had done some mild chirping much to the amusement of the admin staff and MP's, and this only encouraged us on to better, greater and more elaborate presentations. This was going to be the masterstroke to end all masterstrokes.
As you walk out of the flossie, you step into the bright sunlight so your pupils close right down. Added to which the surrounding area is a brilliant chalk white dust which is almost unbearable to look at. The arrivals / departures / customs hangar has its doors drawn half closed but it almost pitch black inside if you are looking from the outside.
Inside are a number of desks and a counter where each person must sign in, to each section that is responsible for looking after his requirements on the base. We start with the arrivals checklist to make sure that you are supposed to be there .
Then we move on to the accommodation clerk who gives you a tent number, then its on to the mess clerk's desk so they know how many to feed, then onto the pay-masters desk so that you will get your pay, and then on to the armourers desk where you are issued with a weapon and magazines and, the golden golden golden rule of the base, is you do NOT put a magazine in your weapon until told to. You load a weapon on the base and it is an immediate court martial. That's IT!.
It took a while process 60 men and get them though customs and as we stod an watched, someone asked the fateful question ...
'How quickly could that lot clear customs if they really wanted to.'
So we watched this lot being processed and then someone said ...
'You know guys, its been a while since we had ourselves a decent stampede!'
So, next 2 or 3 times watched this lot and we had speculated on how quickly we could get a bunch of blougatte to clear customs and get out onto the far side of the arrivals hangar. I mean, really, if we put our minds to it, how fast could we get them from the arse of the flossie into the road beyond. It had become an intellectual exercise, considering how many blougatte there were, how wide open the doors were at both ends of the hangar, how many tables, chairs and clerical personnel would need to be cleared, and where the bottlenecks would be.
We reckoned we could get 60 men through arrivals in 60 seconds ... thats one man per second. Now, it came to the point were the theory had to be tested ... where the rubber hit the road, or the shit hit the fan or whatever way you wanted to phrase it.
And so, we put our carefully rehearsed plan, plan Alpha into play.
And the great pilot in the sky played right into our hands ... Hollywood had nothing on us that day. it was to become a clusterfuck of biblical proportions.
We took a quiet stroll up past ops, past the blind side of the arrivals / departures / customs hangar and took up position. The flossie came past the hangar and stopped and opened the cargo door. This is happening just to the left of the hangar, so all these guys see is a black opening in the side of the hanger.
We battle weary, dirty and bandaged veterans of many a skirmish, carrying Uzzi's and other weapons welcome the blougatte with earnest expressions and words of warning and snippets of wisdom.
You guys are just in time ... we have terrs outside the camp ... there are weapons inside the hangar ... The trenches are on the far side of the hangar ...
And then ... 4 chopper pilots went running out to the choppers shouting at the gunners, running not too far behind and at the chopper mackies to fire up the turbines ... I kid you not ... it was a full on red alert scramble no holds pulled ... that is exactly how it unfolded ... and the entire line of blougatte paused to watch.
4 Pumas lifted off in unison, came swooping overhead and as they cleared the end of the runway, they passed over the weapons testing zone where it was customary to do a weapons check and 4 sets of 50 cals let rip into the earth at the end of the runway ... and there is nothing like a tracer ricochet to make it look that ground fire is being returned.
We were hauling mags out of our tank pants pockets and the blougatte were looking at us in terror ... mesmerized ... frozen to the spot ... what must we do looks in their eyes as they stood there weaponless in their fresh new uniforms on the tarmac ... balsak in hand ... that was the cue ... the vital moment we had been waiting for.
Hollywood had nothing on us that day ...
Two plastic bags with goulash and tomato marinade with 2 sellotape grenades, (matchboxes with the powder from 1 bullet wrapped in sellotape) taped to the back and the chest of the chef, detonated covering us standing next to him in lumps of mature rump and tomato sauce marinade mix and he fell into our arms ... Our bogus 50 cal strike looked so frigging real it was beyond our wildest expectations. Tasted good too
There was a moment of shocked silence as their eyes nearly fell out of their heads then someone yelled ... 'TAKE COVERRR' and the only thing between the roofies and the trenches was the customs hanger ... the medic was there and we grabbed the chef and ran for sick bay, in the one side, out the other, to the showers, cleaned up, put on best civvies, shades and sandals, dumped our soiled tattered browns, around the back of the fuel dump and back into the bar. where we commenced to play poker and made it look like we had been there a while. The other two chefs were on hand to vouch for us.
The MP's whose job it was to herd the new arrivals in, who were in on the jol, herded them in ... Afterwards they claimed that they did not know that the fuckers were going to keep running. ... but they were our time keepers, and according to them, it was 28 seconds from the time the first man ran in till the last man ran out the other side.
It remained an unbroken record for ever more as the fastest that a flossie load of blougatte ever cleared customs. The flossie pilots had not even shut down all four props yet and their entire pax load was gone and in the trenches.
They ploughed through the tables and the clerical staff like it was a hurdles race. Shit went flying everywhere, the armourers table went over, guns and ammo went everywhere, some grabbed guns, some grabbed ammo, some just kept running.
Someone came in to the bar ...
'Jaysus eff me did you hear what happened ?'
'No!' We all looked up in surprise.
'A flossie load of blougatte got stampeded by a chopper scramble ... customs is a frigging mess ... '
'No! you are kidding ?'
'Swear to god man, customs is totally stuffed up... look ... they are all up there doing punishment PT.'
'Jeez what are they sending us these days ...'
And we carried on with our poker game, with just a hint of a smile, but as more and more base personell came in, we all got to laugh along openly as well
'I believe one of them even shot somebody' someone was saying.
'Incredible' said the chef dishing up tomato goulash on rice for supper.
There was no single sane coherent version of that incident. Everyone had their own story.
It did transpire that there were a bunch of 'dirty bastards' out there that had something to do with it, but though some might have suspected, no one said much ... and even the admin staff found it funny as well when they calmed down.
So, that night we tallied scores and one of the MP's took the pot which he split with is buddy ... and he reckoned it was the most amazing thing he had ever seen, and if we ever wanted to do something like that again, we should count them in. Always wise to be good mates with the MP's on any base.
'Evidently the most relevant comment came from the blougatte's section leader waiting to form them up into a squad and march them off ... he looked at his new platoon go running past him and dive into the trenches and the unholy mess in customs, evaluated his new command and simply said 'Ag nee man, vok julle ouens.' (Argh no man ... @#$! you guys) because, being their leader, from the moment they put foot on ground, he was responsible for the havoc his new platoon had just caused. The clerical staff were pissed off at all of them. The gunnery sergeant went fairly beserk as well ... I mean really, can you imagine trying to regroup this lot and then re process them from scratch. Collecting all the klaaring in forms and putting tables right and disarming them.
Anyway, after that we never got the chance again. From that day on, the blougatte were carefully herded into a neat single file and only let into the hangar one at a time, and no one ever got near them again. Other modifications to the base included the digging of trenches on the air craft side of the hangar and the removal of the hangar doors ... Of course it cost us a case of whiskey to get ops to pull a bogus scramble but it was so worth it.
That was not the only stampede that happened at Ondangwa. There were a few others that went down when some bored dipshits got into their heads to test the paraatheid (Battle readiness) of AFB Ondangwa. I remember the Parabats had a go, and I remember the Recon unit having a go and that was more scary than funny cos real rounds and explosives were used, even though ... it was still rather funny afterwards even though there were a number of wounded taken to the medic tent.
I remember the moment the first detonation went off in amongst the tents ... we all looked up to see what bright child had blown himself up this time, but when it followed a few seconds later by about 10 scattered detonations in rapid succession and 30and 50 cal machine guns opening up, everyone hoofed it for the trenches big time. One group had been braaing some meat, (If you did not feel like mess food, you could go and get some wors and chops from the chef and braai your own ... the kitchen staff did not mind, there would be more left overs for them to take home to their kayas) and as the volleys went off, they were burning the grill clean and one guy put his feet square on, on the red hot grill as he ran for the trenches and had tread patterns branded into the soles of his feet for ever more.
The guys would end up 4 deep in a trench, one on top of the other and only the bottom guy had a rifle, and stuff like that.
One guy went bos befok in the toilets when the flies in the shithouse got too much for him, so he let rip with a R1 at the flies on the walls of the loo and that caused a stampede as well.
But our stampede was by far the best of all I recon. We finessed the hell out of that one. Heck, even the OC reckoned it was the best stampede he had ever seen, and he had seen a few in his day.