3 SAI OPS MEDIC
In the photo "1986 3 SAI Medics at Oshivelo" are : back - Stephen, Leon -"Princess Charne' ", Johan, Greg, myself, and Ian; front : Pieter, and our two Infantry Captains, and another Medic who didn't do the course with us as he was from a prior intake, I think his name was Willie. It appears as if Clive was not in the photo for some unknown reason. He was also with 3 SAI and not from Upington (base).
My name is Stan Le Roux. A brief rundown of my service is as follows :
I was an Ops Medic with 3 SAI (Potchefstroom) - Bravo Company - and did National service from July 1985 to 1987.
I went on the Ops Medic course from September 1985 to 6 December 1985. I think that Mark was probably in the same group as myself. He will probably remember that at Klipdrift (Sifdrif) we all stayed in the tents at the end of the classroom block on the right-hand side as one came up from the gate toward the mess. At Klipdrift we were also forced to attend an evening of entertainment put on by the base - the Concert in the Hall - which we tried to get out of going to. And those PT sessions in the afternoon at Klipdrift were a joke, they were all dropping and we were just about falling asleep - the best part was the funny little Bunnyhop that the other medics had to do. Also, on the first weekend at SAMS Pretoria we all stayed in the new bungalows opposite the mess, and then on the Monday we were relocated (dumped) into the filthy bungalows at the top of the base. We had Captains Meyer and Crafford in Pretoria, as well as Major Prins in Potch; and the course number was K8528. I do remember the Bat episode with them removing the aircon and getting into the shop; and from the loud brash hero's that they claimed they were, there were a few bruised egos when they returned that day from DB.
I was the person who got chicken pox while in Pretoria (discovered on a weekend of double shift guard duty) and spent a night at 1 Mil Hospital, after which I was allowed to go home for 14 days (and possibly infected an entire SAA flight in the process). Other medics from our unit were Greg Driessel, Pieter Eygelaar, Ian Kennedy, Johan Herselman, Leon Bezuidenhout, Stephen Olivier, and Clive Forshaw.
After the Medical training phase we returned to 3 SAI for Township duty in Tembisa and then Ikageng (Potch), followed by Homeland duty in Kwandebele and Lebowa. A training session was done at Bloekombos outside of Potch as well for a while. After leave in June 1986 we then went up to the border from late July 1986 to November 1986. Spent July into August at Oshivelo (Dolfyn base), followed by Okatope base which was part of 53 BN from then till November. Okatope was approx 40kms SE of Ondangwa (on the tar road).
After November leave we returned to Potch to hear that the 3 SAI base was closing and that the company was being transferred to 7SAI, so we were 7SAI members from December 1986 to June 1987. The December to March we spent on the border again. This trip included another visit to Oshivelo, followed by Oshigambo during January 1987, and then on to Ogongo in February. There was a water purification works there.
We had some more leave during April, and then returned to the border at the end of April for another dose. This time we went straight to Oshigambo, and also spent some time at Echo Tower. Pretty uneventful trips overall, except for the last trip when our base was revved when we were at Oshigambo. We, as Ops Medics left National Service still with the rank of PTE. But then I did achieve a lot during my camps and eventually ended at the level of Staff.
CF duties were with 1 Medical Battalion in Durban from 1988 to 1994. These included a camp from July to September 1988 with 21 BN on the border - an extended trip to Oshivello (they weren't very good at the theory and prac things) and then on to Okatope. In April 1990 we did a camp at Lohatla for training purposes in support of 8 DIV. I did many camps at 1 Med BN in the Pers. Wing, and actively took part in the numerous Scottish traditions of the unit. These included being Vice-Mess at one of the formal dinners we had, and also helping out with their annual Tartan Games.
I did go back to Namibia for a visit in 1995. We had no problems with getting around and were treated just like any other tourist from a foreign country. The passing of some seven years since my last trip there had showed that almost the entire infrastructure and economy around Oshakati had come to a standstill when the S.A. military had left in 1989/1990. It is now (year 2000) apparently starting to pick up again. I went up to Etosha National Park and did a day trip up to Oshakati. As some of the bases I had been stationed at were along the tar road it was OK to use a sedan car to get there. It was a 2 hour drive from Namutoni restcamp in Etosha to Oshakati. I have seen newspaper photos of Oshigambo which show that the place was stripped when the SADF left, and on my trip I saw that 53 BN base in Ondangwa had been flattened. Okatope base was still there and I had a good look around. Only a "caretaker" was on site and he let me in. Pics will be scanned for the full report.
The base that was a further 40 kms SE of Okatope (don't know the name -any help gratefully appreciated on this though) was however flattened as only the outher walls of the base were there. I think it was where the turnoff was to some or other "Rossing mine". We used to do a mine sweep from Okatope to this base every morning while we stayed at Okatope, have coffee there and then return back to Okatope. Oshivelo base was flattened, but we drove up the driveway where the bougainvilla still are so I knew I was in the right place. I could see that there was nothing, and then in my scanning of the area up past where the sickbay used to be, I saw a few tents and some Brother came running toward the car. Needless to say I did a fast turn and got outta there. Apparently they still DO have a training base at Oshivelo. Obviously the Brothers don't need accommodation like we did.
Andrew McDonald in his message about Ops Medics (dd 29/02/2000) referred to a medic named Pitt - he was probably referring to Craig Pitt who was also on Ops Medics course with us in 1985, Craig was also a member of 1 Medical BN for his camps, and I believe that he eventually went over to the UK in the early 1990s.
Re 1 Mil phase I worked in Casualty first and then I worked in Captain Essie's ward next. Still remember having to march into her ward every day, and one of the guys tried his best to crack her; she warmed up eventually though.
I think I did classroom phase first, then 1 Mil, and then township Hospital phase. I only went to the township hospitals for a few days as the rest of that phase I was off with chickenpox. When (on the few occasions) I was in VTH I did not go out jolling too much with the gang as I was usually out visiting friends in PTA or doing extra (paid) guard shifts for other people. I do remember it being a talking point though.
PS : Did SAMS not have a Smarties Group photo taken at College which we were expected to pay for, but nobody wanted it?
I think that Craig was from the Bluff (Durban), but he could have been from PMB during National Service days.
In the photo "1988 1 Med BN Medics Oshivelo with 21BN" are Mike Willis, myself, Dirk, Craig, Mike Sandford, and Doc.
I definitely did the 1 Mil phase first as I have found a date reference in my records being early October 85. I then either did College classroom phase next followed by Hospitals or vice versa. At 1 Mil I was in Casualty first and then up to Captain Essie's ward next - she was the one that had us marching into / out of her ward and cleaning the damn sleuce room every day for hours. At that stage she also had a paralyzed BAT officer who had had a tyre blown into his back when they were doing grenade training at Tempe. While working in her ward we also had one of our Smartie group who eventually got her to crack (in a nice way) - he was English, tall, and blond hair name unknown though.
I do remember that as I was either at 1 Mil or College phase when the parachute episode occurred and I did also see it - he was pretty f*(#$^**d after that episode. If I remember correctly he came down over the golf course or toward the monument.
Stan -Sat, 22 Jul 2000
Published: 23 July 2000.
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