Cops 'n' Robbers

1 - 5 May 1996

Wed 1 May

May! Last full month! Up at 0540, out at 0630. We spend the morning at Demi. We get an artillery target list from the TOC and attend a counter-terrorism class taught by some State Department civilians from 0930 to 1130. It was long but pretty interesting. It included a SECRET/NOFORN section, although what was secret was a total mystery to me.

We leave at 1200 for Sekovici. Psyops does its radio show, we spend most of the afternoon out of sight in a couple of coffee shops. Our scout escort, CPL Berube, turns out to be from Fort Kent, Maine, so we have something in common. He, I, and some locals shoot pool at a couple of places, losing most games, but not by much. One place had a barmaid in a costume that must have been sprayed on, though armpit sweat stains rather ruined the effect. Another place, getting to be a regular stop, features Marjana, a stunner with long black hair.

The afternoon is gorgeous, sunny, not too warm. On the mountains there is a sharp line of green creeping up day by day. We get out at a reasonable hour and are back by 2030. I go straight to bed since I have radio watch 0000-0300.

Just before reaching Demi, Chief repeats a bizarre message about the Serbs demanding "medical exams" to be sure inspectors of weapons sites aren't Moslems. (That is, are they circumcised? Silly, since most Americans are; just more Serbian petty obstructionism.) The Radio Traffic Officer: "Is there any reason to send this over the air?" Chief: long pause, then "er,... no."

Thu 2 May

In to Demi at 0700. We pick up 1LT Taylor. the plan is to take him into town and on the way pick his brain regarding NCOER's, OER's and awards. I stay back to mind the store, he and Hadrick foot march in. About 1000, LT Bishop calls. Ten civilians are at the west gate of Demi, angry that their phones are still out. He set up a meeting at the PTT office for 1300. I radio Hadrick; he and Taylor go. We take Taylor back about 1600 and walk into a beehive. We just get there when a soldier, despondent over his wife divorcing him, shoots himself in the stomach. I watch the medevacs take off (the soldier survived).

I pull radio watch 1800-2100. It's quiet until 1930, then there's a major row. The commander of C Company tells his NCOIC to bring all his people back, just pull them off guard duty without relief. There's a flurry of radio traffic before the XO finally tells the commander to wait until the incoming company, A company, relieves them about 2030. The NCOIC is SFC Link, a nice guy who was fully aware his commander was wrong but was caught in the middle.

Soap Box Time. Officers and senior NCO's refusing to clear weapons and trying to order their way in past guards. A company commander pulling his men off guard duty without proper relief. Every time I turn around I see some military publication asking whether or not Reservists can meet the standards of the Active Army. Maybe somebody should ask if the Active Army can meet the standards of the Reserves.

I realize that we can turn in our 100% inventory in Tuzla tomorrow. I stay up until 2300 doing it. SFC Mann is extremely helpful and warns me of some pitfalls. Some things, like our night vision goggles, must have complete subcomponent listings. There are over a dozen components, ranging from the trivial like forehead pads to a $300 pair of filters about the size of a quarter.

Fri 3 May

We leave for Demi at 0700. I stop at commo and swap out our defective hand mike, so I can return the one we borrowed from Psyops some time ago. We leave for Tuzla at 0830. We stop in Stupari and drop off some clothes that were sent by Stateside donors. Psyops gives out papers. Then on to the Thunderdome (Battalion Support Area) so SSG Griffis can turn in some paperwork. This is my first time here; there are several camps within a few kilometers of each other in a huge coal strip mine. It was a quagmire early in the spring but is all dry now. We don't get to Tuzla until after noon. I turn in the inventory paperwork to MAJ Sarkela; he looks it over and says we set the standard. I stop at the G6. The problem, I learn, is that our Compaq computer has proprietary programs and that attempting to boot Windows directly will not work. The civilian technician has a lousy attitude, says they have no Compaq, the computer will have to be left off, and they will not sign for it. I say no way (what he wanted, of course).

I'm close to writing the whole thing off. At lunch I sit with CPT Cindy Ernst. She explains the technician had a very bad week dealing with network problems. She unplugs her computer, escorts George and me in. We set up Laplink and run it (we could probably have done it at Demi if anyone had known how). George goes off to see JAG and try to resolve the phone damage issue. They try without success to contact Germany to track it. It takes until about 1700 to download all the files. Cindy is the heroine of this story; without her this wouldn't have gotten done. We eat chow and get back to Diane by 1930. We miss Command and Staff (sob!)

My dreams of sleeping in on Saturday are down the tubes. S2 calls in and wants us to go out to LA Pat at 0900 to talk about damage to the bridge and a fence. I get to bed at 2030.

Chief Black is back from leave. His father died before he even left on emergency leave.

Sat 4 May

Without a doubt the most bizarre day of the whole tour. I pull radio watch 0000-0300. At 0530 Hadrick comes in with a bombshell. A guard from A Company manning the 50-caliber machine gun at the front gate went AWOL and was in custody after attempting to burglarize a house. The place is locked down. My first thought is: at least we won't have to go out to LA Pat. My relief lasts only a couple of minutes, because by 0600 we roll out to the police.

George and Cliff of the IPFT are already there. The soldier, a corporal, seems unafraid and unrepentant. We find out later he has only one month to ETS; not any more. We meet with the police. George and I stay out of the questioning; we do not want to compromise the legal proceedings. The IPFT finally cuts a deal to have the kid turned over to military custody. We convoy back. I drive, the kid sits in the back with escorts. We take him to Demi and he goes to the aid station; the owners of the house pounded him pretty well.

At about 0400 the SOG reported to Hadrick that Rusche was missing and the 50-caliber post was unmanned. They searched the area, held a headcount, and reported him missing. At about the same time, the homeowners discovered him in the house. He had laid his weapon down on the second floor stair landing and the owner grabbed it. He struggled with the owner trying to escape, and the owner's son jumped in. He's a weight lifter. No contest.

We wait at Demi. CPT Perozo, the A Company commander (and a thoroughly good guy) shows up to deal with the mess. MAJ Jarred tells us, good job. We wait until 1130 to catch a convoy back. I shave, brief Roger and Scott, who have just come down from BSA after their pass to Budapest. Poor Scott walks right into the firestorm. What a homecoming. I overhear SFC Miller, the NCOIC of Rusche's platoon, reading his troops the riot act. He mentions people making racial comments, the very first thing I've heard about any such problem here (in general, 4/12 can be proud of what I've seen of its race relations. I have never seen better.)

About 1300 the team, plus Perozo and SFC Miller, visit the family. The owner has gone to Sarajevo, and the wife is still angry and upset (nobody blames her). Nevertheless she offers us coffee. Most are about to decline but I suggest it might be a good idea to accept, and we do. then we view damage to the door and look over the crime scene. By the time we leave, the woman has calmed down a lot and we part on good terms. This will be a major damage control issue for a while, though.

Then we visit the police. They heard rumors of a second soldier but there are no other AWOLs. Also, it appears the soldier had tried to enter another house before the break-in. There are a lot of things about this case that never did really add up. If the kid acted alone, how did he happen to pick one of the most affluent houses in town? There were rumors that this family had shady connections; if there's more here than a simple break-in, how and when did he make connections with people?

We get back about 1530. I have had 2-1/2 hours of sleep since midnight so I get a bit more. Later on I help Scott with some award wording. He's delighted with the inventory paperwork. Radio watch (again) 2100-2400.

Sun 5 May

Off radio watch at midnight. Scott and George go see the break-in victims about a damage claim for their door. Roger has SOG; I sleep in a little. Scott and George come back about 0900. They say the old man got pretty bruised. I spend most of the day typing up awards and NCOER's. We foot march into Kladanj about 1330 so Scott can get a haircut. Chief Black tags along. We have to wait for the shop to reopen, and run into George McClellan, who treats us to ice cream. He tells us the team now has two Germans as well. We hike back around 1600 and run into Cliff Baker. Lots of folks are out taking driving lessons; we recognize the cute secretary from Stupari among them. Afar we get back I do more work on awards and NCOER's, then the printer goes down, also LT McDonald ties the machine up playing games. I finally copied the software to put on our own computer, and worked on the paperwork until 2330. So much for not having to stay up late on radio watch. It doesn't help in the least that Jagoda comes by about 1900 and stays an hour. She was trying to see if we could help her brother get a job with Brown and Root.

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Last update 23 Apr 1997