Monday, March 1, 2010

On The Firing Line

The Prime Sinister - sorry. Prime Minister. Yeah. Him. He made a rather astonishing announcement the other day. He said that the NZSAS troops in Afghanistan had been in a firefight, and that the exchange of fire was the first time NZSAS troops had fired upon the enemy.

Now, it has been pointed out by your humble correspondent that our humble PM’s name, JohnKey, rhymes with DonKey. In this case, it’s more than appropriate to point this out, as he has once again brayed useless noise into your ears, much as an ass does. And he’s made an ass of himself in so doing.

I refer you to Corporal Bill “Willie” Apiata, who (you may recall) was awarded the the Victoria Cross in 2007, for an action that took place in 2004.What follows is a quote from his citation. The emphasis is mine. I have not changed the words in any way.

“He (Lance Corporal Apiata) ordered his other colleague, Trooper E, to make his own way back to the rear.In total disregard of his own safety, Lance Corporal Apiata stood up and lifted his comrade bodily. He then carried him across the seventy metres of broken, rocky and fire swept ground, fully exposed in the glare of battle to heavy enemy fire and into the face of returning fire from the main Troop position. That neither he nor his colleague were hit is scarcely possible. Having delivered his wounded companion to relative shelter with the remainder of the patrol, Lance Corporal Apiata re-armed himself and rejoined the fight in counter-attack.

By his actions, he removed the tactical complications of Corporal D's predicament from considerations of rescue.The Troop could now concentrate entirely on prevailing in the battle itself. After an engagement lasting approximately twenty minutes, the assault was broken up and the numerically superior attackers were routed with significant casualties, with the Troop in pursuit.

It strikes me that unless the SAS Troop was armed only with catapults and spit-balls, it’s likely that they did fire their weapons, and with some high degree of efficiency.

By the way: reading it like this does give some idea of the difficulty of the occasion. He is a hero, and deserves our respect.

As a by-the-by, I would like to point out that he was born in Mangakino, where I spent the first 7 years of my life. These two facts are not coincidental. I am sure that he was inspired by having lived in the same tiny township that I had previously resided.

Reading: "Alibi", Joseph Kanon. Kool

Listening To: Sinead O'Connor, "The Lion and the Cobra".

Recent Movies: At the theatre, "Shutter Island". Very Good. At home: "3.10 to Yuma," and "Tombstone". I do like a good Western.

Word of the day: sweat. I did a lot of it.


Arthur slumped back against the wall of the trench, and sobbed.
Chapter Seven.
There's one advantage to being Postmistress, Jayne Francis thought, and that is I get to see the mail first. There were over a hundred letters from the boys overseas today: the ship must have docked in Auckland a week ago. The military postmarks gave nothing away, except the date the boys had posted them: there was nothing to indicate where the soldiers were. Most of the letters, however, were marked with mud-stains, with one of them carrying what looked suspiciously like a blood-stain. It might be nothing, Jayne thought. Perhaps a paper cut? Perhaps not. Perhaps just spilled ink.
In amongst the letters were eighteen from Arthur. Jayne recognised his open, looping handwriting. Her own name was on four envelopes, four to his beloved Grampa Smith, and – finally! - ten to Amy. Amy Copthorne had visited the General store at least three times a week, looking for mail from Arthur. She had two reasons, one dating back to Arthur's last leave before embarking for Egypt when Arthur had finally told her what she'd known for years, and the other reason hailing from only two months ago, when the grimmest news Amy had ever known had been brought brutally to her.

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