Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Stock Detective VI.

This is coolbert:

Stock Detective - - Conclusion.

General observations & impressions.

Concluding my interview with Deke. American Vietnam War combat veteran who fought in the Rhodesian Bush War as a stock detective, a military and quasi-military mission - - nonetheless - - combat and WAR as that word is generally understood.

Bert: What most surprised you about your Rhodesian experience?

Deke: The shoestring it was run on, as well as how well the Rhode military did against much larger forces of the terrs/g's.I was also surprised at how many black Rhode soldiers there were fighting for the Rhode government. They were highly motivated as well

Bert: While on ranch security, the terrain and weather you encountered was to similar in some ways to what part of the U.S., if any?

Deke: I have to say I've seen nothing quite like the terrain and flora in the US anywhere. The closest might be south and west Texas, but Texas has no Kopjes, no "wait a minute" bushes with thorns in very tree, bush and grass, and no huge animals wandering about. It is hard to equate that part of Africa with anything anywhere else. Weather: was hot, dry, such that the air sometimes sounded like a slow batch of popcorn going off as the seeds popped and crackled in the heat. And there was a time when it was so cold, all we could do was struggle to keep warm, forgetting about any contact with terrs for that night.

Bert: Did you ever meet other Americans and did this surprise you?

Deke: Yes, I met a few and no, I wasn't surprised. It was a gravitating point for a lot of Viet vets with reasons like me for joining up, as well as for adventurers (those latter were the ones who mostly faked their resumes and DD-214 US military discharge papers). At the time, Americans appeared all over Africa to fight against Marxist-led groups, most of them vets from Vietnam, most being known as mercenaries. Some were true professional soldiers and some were just stupid wannabe mercs and pretend heroes who, like the poorly trained adversaries I mentioned, got dead in quick order when they ran into anyone organized or trained.

Bert: Were the Rhodesians generally surprised to encounter an American?

Deke: No, there were Yanks all around. Some were not highly regarded I might add, mostly because of the aforementioned problem with exaggerating or inventing combat experience either to get higher rank upon entering the Rhodesian military or to get into elite units for which they'd otherwise not be qualified.

Bert: The famous American author Robin Moore who wrote the "Green Berets" was for a time the unofficial American diplomat in Rhodesia. Did you ever meet him?

Deke: I really don't recall. If I did, I met him socially only one time in passing at a party or gathering of some kind which included newly arrived Americans. I was advised to avoid him, as publicity in those days was something combat personnel didn't want. I was aware he was there and who he was. He was seen by some local Rhodesians as some kind of CIA plant or intelligence gatherer. I did meet his female assistant, who was aiding him in writing another book, while being his social secretary. She was quite attractive and was also reputed to be his lover. We were also warned by various Americans and Rhodesians to keep away from her for the same reasons.

Bert: That Rhodesian army was described as THE BEST small army in the world, would you concur?

Deke: At the time, yes.

Bert: The Rhodesian troop in particular tended to be very physically fit?

Deke: Yes, very! Most seemed to be farm boys--owners and sons of owners of farms and ranches. They hunted regularly, worked outside a lot, and thus were naturally fit. Most were reservists who, when not on active duty, went back to the farms and sometimes led safaris and the like.

Bert: White Rhodesians primarily a farm boy strong and used to doing hard physical labor out of doors? Accustomed to handling firearms? Also adept at mechanical repair of vehicles? All from farm experience. Natural soldiers?

Yes, see above. Yes to all the questions. As for "natural soldiers", city boys often make very good soldiers too--but the farm boys and outdoorsmen start with a huge advantage; they know the basic soldering skills already: bushcraft, hunting, shooting, making camps and fires in the bush, etc.

Bert: Did the Rhodesians to your knowledge ever attempt to constitute a "Legion" type unit? Foreign fighters only at levels of platoon, company or above?

Deke: I don't recall now. From what I saw, most of the foreigners seemed to be fairly equally mixed in with the Rhodesians. Some units might have more Americans or Brits than another unit, simply because the men would manipulate the system to get transferred to a unit with a friend or friends in it.

Bert: This ends the interview with Deke! And a most interesting item for the blog it makes. Thank you Deke and good hunting!

Deke: Thank you Bert.

This serial is the type of material that needs to be put down on paper for posterity sake, and now has been done so. Thanks again Deke.


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