But what did come out of those 2 years? What would we have been like had we not gone in in the first place? What would we have been like if we had become conscientious objectors? or left the country? When I got called up there was no End Conscription Campaign, and going to varsity was not an option. South Africa was in a period of bitter turmoil, that same turmoil that got us to where we are today. Those of us who served our 2 years and camps today are legislated against by law in the job market. Our current government does not recognise our service and considers us to be “temporary workers”, and even the MOTH didn’t want anything to do with us.
Then there were those who never came home. In my case four of my comrades never made it. Rfn Hennie Van Der Colf, Rfn Lionel Van Rooyen, Rfn Peter Hall, and Cpl JL Potgieter. Strangely enough they are always with me, and they are partly what drives me to find the graves of servicemen. They are still young, they never got to look back on 30 years.
I remember arriving at the doorstep of our family home in Mayfair on the 18th, our household now consisted of 3 people. I had lost my father on 7 November 1981, at the time when I understood him the most, he was taken away from us. I had many questions to ask him, and never got that opportunity.
Would I ever do it again? if a global enemy threatened the planet and we were asked to return to uniform I do not know what I would say. But the chances are, there would be more volunteers from amongst ex-soldiers than there would be from the present technologically obsessed “youth” and millennials. Would I fight for my country if I was asked? probably not. I was never South African enough before 1994, and am now the wrong side of the colour, gender and age line.
I recall before I left for 3 SAI in January 1980 thinking that the chances were that I would never come out in December 1981, it seems as if I was wrong. It’s just a pity that so many dreams and wishes just never materialised. I finally got my “Pronutro” in August 2011, nearly 30 years later!
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