1 March 1985. 18h00.
I took the full force of the impact. The metal panels of the vehicle smashed into my back crushing and shattering three vertebrae. At first I felt no pain, no fear but could see it etched into everyone else`s faces.
It was a Friday afternoon we were coming home, a weekend pass. Just minutes earlier we were all laughing, the boys had just smoked a big Durban Poison joint. It was hot, a tropical summer hot, hot and humid. We were coming home a few days back with family a few days away from the reality of army life.
I was the rookie in the group I had only been at 121 Battalion for 3 months and it was an eye opener. Basic training had been tough, no doubt but I was fit and ready, being in a combat unit was another thing all together, this was the real deal.
The next few minutes changed everything. I became another person, the same on the outside but inside everything changed, I could never go back.
I know there are no answers to the questions I have asked myself a million times, I know this but I keep searching for the answers. Why did he die and I live?
We were sitting right next to each other surely it should have been me. I was the one with the mortal injuries after the first impact. He was fine, just a broken arm.
Why did Lieutenant Le Roux come to my aid and not his, he could have been moved much easier than me?
What were any of us even doing there, forced to be part of a war that served no purpose against enemies that are now friends?
What are the odds on me having just a week before finished a first aid lifesaving course, which gave me the skills to take lifesaving instant decisions?
I know there are no answers, I still keep asking myself ,Why ?
It all happened so fast. One minute we were happy and laughing on our way home, the next, broken, bleeding and dying.
I had no idea what had actually happened, the impact threw me forward onto my hands and knees. I felt nothing but could not breathe, all the air had been forced out of my lungs and I could not move at all.
I had never been really hurt before, little things, a broken arm, a few cuts a few stitches but nothing drastic. I immediately knew deep down inside this was different, I knew I was badly hurt, there was no pain, but I could see it in the faces of the people around me and for the first time I noticed everything was moving in slow motion, both sound and vision became stretched.
I was confused but at the same time saw everything crystal clear. Lt Le Roux was there straight away, it was all chaotic but in the chaos he was there. For some reason we just knew what to do, first I needed to breath, the feeling of being oxygen starved on dry land is not pleasant, but for some reason it did not worry me a the time. The look on Lt Le Roux face was way more worrying, he was looking at my back and I heard him swearing.
I finally managed to gasp a breath but with it came the first spears of pain and blood, I started coughing up blood and it hurt to breath, I knew that meant ribs and lungs but the pain came from my back.
I had my surfboard with me, my trusty Graham Smith twin fin and it saved my life that day.
The first impact had been brutal but it was the second that was deadly.
My surfboard was lying right next to me in the back of the truck, Lt Le Roux slowly managed to get it under me and lifted me out of the truck and set me down on the road side.
I still was trying to assimilate what was going on, what had happened, how badly was I hurt. The moment I touched the floor out of harm`s way, all hell broke loose.
The noise was terrifying, screeching, squealing, crunching, grinding, and buckling metal as the whole messy mass of our vehicle somehow miraculously only inches from my face moved up the road as if by magic.
Waves of pain had begun to engulf me, I know I was moaning, but it was nothing compared to the screams of pain that were about to start.