Saturday, April 16, 2011

Stock Detective I.

This is coolbert:

Stock Detective.

From the wiki entry for Bounty Hunter: "During the Rhodesian Bush War, cattle rustling reached epidemic proportions in the late 1970s. This was part of a twofold strategy of the guerrillas against the white minority government in Salisbury. First, it led to starvation in the Tribal Trust Lands, secondly it negatively affected the economy of Rhodesia . . . mercenaries were hired to confront the rustlers. They were called Range Detectives, and most of them were Vietnam veterans . . . Payment was roughly 7 Rhodesian dollars a day, and a 750 Rhodesian dollar bonus for each rustler caught."

Here begins a series of blog entries, an interview with an American Vietnam War combat veteran who was a Rhodesian bounty hunter.

Saw service not with the Rhodesian military but with a private concern, ranch security, working as a "range detective", in American terminology a "stock detective".

An American Vietnam War combat veteran fighting as part of a team, using skills, weapons and tactics of a military and quasi-military to combat the cattle rustling of the black African insurrectionist groups, ZAPU and ZANU!

Those persons, "protectors of the cows", following an ancient and venerable tradition, the Kshatriya warrior of India, the hajduk of eastern Europe, Tom Horn of the American Old American West, in the Indo-European tradition the wealth of the noble or lord being measured in head of cattle - - the prevention of rustling a very serious business, attended to by the man-at-arms.

Consider: "The old Vedic word for war, gavisti, means 'desire for cows'"

Consider that the ancient epic poem of Ireland is: "The Great Cattle Raid of Cooley"!

An assemblage of cows, cattle, a herd, gathered in large part through WAR!

On to the interview!

Bert: Welcome Deke.

Deke: Hello Bert.

Bert: During the Rhodesian Bush War you served as a stock detective? Americans patrolling, looking for terrorist cattle rustlers? A $700 bounty for each rustler caught?

Deke: That is primarily what I did in Rhodesia. $10 per day, a bonus for each terr caught--the "cattle rustlers' I was confronting were all part of the terr group I was never in the Rhodesian Army. I accepted a job doing Ranch security for some Rhode ranchers who were being hit constantly by the terrorists/guerrillas ("terrs" in Rhode terminology).

Bert: Did you have take an oath of allegiance to the Rhodesians?

Deke: As I said, I wasn't in the military officially. So, no.

Bert: Did you have soldier status with the Rhodesians incorporated into their military or would you have been legally by international law considered a mercenary?

Deke: As private contractors working on private land, we had the status the ranchers would have had in self defense. The soldiers acted as if we were part of their forces and in fact, many of the private security troops were Rhode Army reservists anyway, not on active duty and working "on the side" as security people. I would say we weren't considered mercenaries.

Bert: Did you contact someone here in the U.S. first before going to Rhodesia or did you just show up in Salisbury.

Deke: I had contacts, but I'd rather not name them.

Bert: And your route from the U.S. to Rhodesia was through where and how?

Deke: I flew from Miami, FL, via commercial air travel, through Rio de Janeiro, where I changed planes to a South African Airline flight to Johannesburg.

Bert: Was there a primary over-riding factor in your going to Rhodesia or were the factors varied and complex?

Deke: Continuing the war against Communism and its totalitarian governments was my primary motivation. I considered the war in Vietnam as one of many conflicts necessary to fight takeovers by the kind of Marxists who believed in one party government, no freedom, etc. For me, it was a personal crusade brought about by what I thought of as an American national failure which led to a bloodbath in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.

An additional motivation was the lack of jobs for Viet vets. When I hunted for work in 1976 and '77 in the US, in at least one third of the few interviews I was invited to, I was told by the human resources people doing the hiring that they would not hire Viet vets because "everybody knows you are all baby killers and drug addicts." I was applying for all jobs from pumping gas at Seven/Elevens up to management in retail stores.

Bert: Did anyone ever warn you that you might lose your American citizenship by your fighting for a foreign nation? A threat that was valid?

Deke: Yes, we were warned not to take the Rhodesian oath because some US government agencies or personnel would try to take away our American citizenship. However, I was aware of a 1960s US Supreme Court decision involving Jewish-Americans who took oaths to Israel to join the Israeli Army. The decision said that American citizenship had to be specifically renounced in order for the citizen to actually lose his citizenship. I was advised that the Rhodesian military would have taken me in without such an oath, even though I knew that oath would not result in loss of citizenship. It was used by the American government to scare away US citizens from joining up.

Bert: And you arrived in Rhodesia in what year?

Deke: I think 1977. Not sure, so long ago....

Bert: Were you single or married prior to Rhodesia?

Deke: Single. I lost some girl friends due to my service in several conflicts over the years.

Bert: Your basic pay was $10 per day?

Deke: Yes, plus room and board, whenever we were "out of the bush", staying in abandoned ranch houses and hunting lodges.

Bert: Besides the $10 per day the bounty on terrs caught or killed was $700?

Deke: $1000 bounty for us.

Bert: Was it common practice for Americans to be deployed in such a fashion?

Deke: No. Again, I was working private security at the time. My two cohorts on most of our field work were both Vietnam Green Beret SOG vets with extensive small unit work behind enemy lines--just what we were doing. They trained me in the field using their Spec Ops experiences in Vietnam for a guide.

[SOG. Studies & Observation Group. American Special Forces and special operations troops during the Vietnam War whose mission was deep-penetration cross-border missions into denied territory, Laos, Cambodia, North Vietnam, primarily to observe the Ho Chi Minh Trail and activity of communist forces on same.]

Bert: And your mission as an American was part of a sniper hunter/killer three man team?

Deke: Yes, I was considered the best shot, as I was involved in competitive shooting for years before going to Rhodesia. I have to point out that in today's environment, I'd be considered not a sniper, but a marksman or sharpshooter. I was very capable of hitting any man-sized target with a telescopic sighted rifle up to 400 yards without worry of missing. I was just a better than average shooter, without all the training that snipers go through today.

Bert: Both you and the terrs wore camo uniforms?

Deke: We were "issued" Rhodesian Army uniforms, but without insignia. The Rhode Army insisted on this in order, they said, to avoid friendly fire incidents between the security people wandering in their areas and sometimes unknown to the Army. Everyone was on adrenaline in the bush and firing might begin without confirmation of one's identity. I don't recall exactly how the uniforms came to us, but it was directly from the military--the uniforms were new, unissued, and in our sizes. I still have mine

Bert: Did you feel at the time you were too old to beat the bush in a low-level position as a member of a hunter/killer team when Rhodesia. The stamina and physical effort required was not beyond you?

Deke: I ran 8-10 miles every single day at that point. My running times were as low as 60 minutes for 10 miles, or six minute miles, which was very good time for any age. I was in better physical shape than anyone I knew. But it must be noted, one of my SF cohorts went out into the bush with an artificial leg, having lost one of his real legs in the jungles of Laos when behind enemy lines along the Ho Chi Minh Trail.

Bert: You prepared yourself physically in advance for the Rhodesian adventure? And did so in what manner?

Deke: No, I already worked out hard as I said.

Bert: The actual term used was ranch security? These ranches raised free-ranging beef cattle? Ranches were fenced?

Deke: The terms were ranch security and bounty hunters. The cattle were free ranging, though in some places the ranch--and the roaming cattle and some Cape Buffalo herds as well--were fenced into 5,000 acre segments, called paddocks.

Bert: And the terrs "rustled" for food or just to create havoc or a combination of both?

Deke: The terrs rustled for both food for the larger terr groups and to disrupt the economy, driving the owners out of business and out of the area. In addition, they liked to drive the workers out of work--I think there was an expectation that the workers would blame the owners for their lost jobs and rise up.

At one rather large white-owned ranch, something like 70% of the herd was lost in one year or less, as I recall. The rancher and his wife and 14 year old daughter were targeted and each had to wear or carry a weapon 24/7. They had six to ten men working as security people at one time or another, with contacts against rustlers/terrs (rustlers working for the terrs, if not the terrs themselves) being frequent at times.

Bert: Your U.S. military training was adequate and had prepared you for the ranch security mission?

Deke: My familiarity with bush living as a sometimes outdoorsman/hunter gave me an advantage. And, as I said, both my cohorts during most of the bush work in Rhodesia were former Spec Ops SOG soldiers from the Viet war, working well behind enemy lines in Laos on the Ho Chi Minh Trail. They constantly trained me while in the field on tactics, responses to ambushes, bush living, ambush setting, and so forth. They were highly skilled operators--the kind you hear about who are now Delta Force people. There was no Delta Force at the time, but their outfit was the one that Delta Force was partially created from. I felt I had the best on-the-job training in the world. At least one of my teachers in Rhodesian who I went out on some operations with was an SAS [Special Air Services] soldier who also taught me some of that force's skills.

Bert: Would you do it all over again?

Deke: Yes.

To be continued.



Anonymous said...

Great Interview!

Will it be continued?


Anonymous said...

Enjoyed it