Valour and Courage: Lt Col Linus Lunsong in Bandung in the Indon Elite Training Centre
Death or Glory
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The Courageous
Who Have Looked At
Death In The Eye
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Stories Of Valour
Courage
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Miscellaneous
No Atheists
In A Foxhole
“When you're left wounded on

Afganistan's plains and

the women come out to cut up what remains,

Just roll to your rifle

and blow out your brains,

And go to your God like a soldier”

“We are not retreating. We are advancing in another direction.”

“It is fatal to enter any war without the will to win it.”

“Old soldiers never die; they just fade away.

“The soldier, above all other people, prays for peace,

for he must suffer and be the deepest wounds and scars of war.”

“May God have mercy upon my enemies, because I won't .”
“The object of war is not to die for your country but to make the other bastard die for his.

“Nobody ever defended anything successfully, there is only attack and attack and attack some more.

“Fixed fortifications are a monument to the stupidity of man."
“It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died.
Rather we should thank God that such men lived.

The Soldier stood and faced God


Which must always come to pass

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He hoped his shoes were shining

Just as bright as his brass

"Step forward you Soldier,

How shall I deal with you?


Have you always turned the other cheek?


To My Church have you been true?"


"No, Lord, I guess I ain't


Because those of us who carry guns


Can't always be a saint."

I've had to work on Sundays

And at times my talk was tough,

And sometimes I've been violent,

Because the world is awfully rough.

But, I never took a penny

That wasn't mine to keep.

Though I worked a lot of overtime

When the bills got just too steep,

The Soldier squared his shoulders and said

And I never passed a cry for help

Though at times I shook with fear,

And sometimes, God forgive me,

I've wept unmanly tears.

I know I don't deserve a place

Among the people here.

They never wanted me around


Except to calm their fears.


If you've a place for me here,


Lord, It needn't be so grand,


I never expected or had too much,


But if you don't, I'll understand."

There was silence all around the throne

Where the saints had often trod

As the Soldier waited quietly,

For the judgment of his God.

"Step forward now, you Soldier,

You've borne your burden well.

Walk peacefully on Heaven's streets,

You've done your time in Hell."

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Lt Col Linus Lunsong in Bandung in the Indon Elite Training Centre
Friday, April 27, 2007
Prior to the actual training in Batu Djadjar, Bandung we had to undergo a preselection course lasting about four weeks at the Special Warfare School in Sg Udang Camp, Malacca. About 30 of us, a mix of trained commandos and noncommando personnel, attended the pre-course. We started the day with a 2-km run and occasionally increased to 3 and 5 km in between depending on the instructors. It would be followed by push-ups, sit-ups, heaving and many more to toughen our hand and leg muscles in preparation for the parachute training we would receive at the training centre in Bandung. We did floatation exercise either in thecamp's swimming pool or in the sea fronting the amphibious boat troop building at Sg Udang Camp.

We spent an hour or more, in full gears, before being brought back to the shore. Every night we had to sleep on the ground with only a poncho as a cover. The poncho was our protection against the elements. In the morning we had to share a biscuit each for two and a cup of tea for breakfast. Dinner was no better either. At times we would go and steal from the cookhouse to satiate our hunger. Besides those arduous physical training, we had to sharpen our skills, in map reading and field crafts. Skills that were required to see us through the 7-month course in Bandung. The Indonesians would not be as gentle as most of us would want to believe.

As if to add insult to injury and misery that we had suffered, we heard that some of our colleagues, those who had failed the preselection course, were picked to attend the Special Forces Course at Fort Bennings in Georgia, USA. I felt cheated and was so demoralised. Favouritism does not exist in the civil service alone. The army is no exception. Nevertheless, we pulled ourselves together and completed the course. 2Lt Beyamin was sick and was coughing uncontrollably. He was forced to withdraw leaving me as the only officer behind. 2LtDaud Ariffin, from the MSSU, was later brought in to fill the vacancy but did not make it to Bandung.

A month after completing the course we were on our way to the famous Indonesian city in West Java. Two days after we arrived in the RPKAD Training Centre, Batu Djardjar, we were taken to the jump tower to undergo our first test. We were told to climb up the 150-foot tower without any safety harness, just our bare hands and pure guts. Being the lone officer, I was asked to lead the pack. Silently, I said my prayers, asking God to grant me two seconds to live, for that was the time taken to parachute to the ground from the platform. If I survived the fall I would remain alive for the rest of the course. There standing in front of us was a big signboard with the words kalau ragu-ragu boleh balek sekarang. (If in doubt please go back now). I was inspired by those words. There was no turning back. How would I face my colleagues in the Rangers and my people back home should I fail. I closed my eyes and again beckoned upon God to grant me the precious two seconds and jumped. I found firm footing after the two seconds. I had survived. God had granted my wish. It took about an hour to complete our group before another group took over.

All of us survived this first test. It was very encouraging indeed The next three weeks, we were given lessons on ground training, breaking falls and parachute handling techniques. We were taught techniques to read wind speed and tracking. We were given lessons on ways to fold our parachutes and how to conduct safety checks. These lessons were to instil confidence in our equipment. The practical jumps were more scary, as we had to sit impatiently on the airport tarmac with parachutes on our backs waiting for the signal to embark. The waiting was exacerbated by problems in getting the aircraft airborne.

The conditions of the Indonesian aircrafts were the real reason. Delays were caused by mechanical problems which were the bane of the Indonesian Air Force. Exercises, however, went on smoothly with the exception of the waiting game, which we endured almost every other day. Before the week was over, we had completed the mandatory seven static jumps which comprised one night, one jungle, one equipment and the remaining were normal jumps.The closing ceremony was simple but sweet. We suffered a few bruises but no fatal injuries The military attache, a colonel, from the Malaysian Embassy at Jakarta graced the occasion.

A week later we were happy to meet another group of Malaysian soldiers joining us for the commando training. This group was led by 2Lt Ahmad Rodi and 2Lt Rahim, together with about 20 Other Ranks. They were rather unfortunate for they neither had the time nor the opportunity to acquaint themselves to the climate and the rigorous training - the Indonesian way.

From Day One, the whole intake of about 250 students suffered between 20 to 30 casualties, all from the Indonesian side. They all failed the 20 km run and were dismissed or RTU (returned to unit), in military parlance. We were not allowed to drink a single drop of water while on the march and not a drop immediately after we finished. Before the march were told to open our water bottles and pour the water to the ground. The first of a series of mental tortures we underwent. It was plain crazy but it was a course so we learned to accept whatever was thrown at us. Many collapsed and had to be medically evacuated. Those caught trying or attempting to drink the spilled water or any water along the route were kicked and punched before they were sent back to unit the next day.

A few cried foul but were subdued. No appeal was entertained. To the Indonesian soldiers, getting the coveted Red Beret was a glory few could achieved so they put their hearts and souls to the training. Getting sacked was a real slap in the face. I empathized with the failures. Every day we heard news that someone had been RTU failing to meet the rigorous training schedule. Others were sent home because they failed to adhere to stringent training requirements. Offenders were made to crawl on the roads. Many got their hands chests injured because of sharp gravels and stones. The Indonesians roads were something else.Crawling on them was never a thrilling experience. Kicking, slapping and punching were the norms. Physical abuses were condoned and conducted on a scale never seen today. May be this was how Third World armies conduct their training then. Civility was never a buzz word in their vocabulary. Somehow or other I was lucky to the end. I was among the few who were spared such insults.

May be I was a foreigner, a tetamu (guest) and a perwira (officer), so I was let off the hook.How presumptuous but that was the truth. After the first month a couple of our Malaysian soldiers fell victim and were sent home packing. The rest glued together and continued with the torture, regardless. Our training routine began at 5.30 am in the morning. We ran on the road, braving the freezing weather in our shorts. Bandung is on a plateau about 3000 feet above sea level. It can be pretty chilly in the morning. This would be followed by a breakfast consisting of rice either with a slice of tempeh (soya bean cake) or a see through meat slice and a bowl of watery vegetables soup.

After breakfast it would be the much dreaded weapon inspection which was to precede lessons relating to the course. Why I said that weapon inspection was a dread because during the inspection almost all of the trainees would be punished for no rhyme or reason. The instructors would simply find fault with us. We would curse and swear praying for deliverance from the Almighty. We had to remain attentive when in class. Anyone caught napping or dreaming would face the music. I was shot twice near my ears for sleeping in class. I was thankful my eardrums did not split despite the proximity of the shot and the blast. Tactics and manoeuvre techniques were the main subjects taught. Some were almost identical to what we had already learnt back home. Presentation of orders and words of command were slightly different but the basis was the same. We managed to close the gap and overcome the fear as we progressed along.

Field exercises were our greatest love. Everything would be simulated to the near real war situation. We fired live bullets, used hand grenades and bombs to feel the real wartime effects. We even used hand-held rocket launchers and commando mortars during these manoeuvres. Any slips or a simple miscalculation could result in fatalities. Fortunately, nothing untoward happened. Bayonet fighting, knife throwing and unarmed combat were as intense. We were given the opportunity to fight among ourselves at the end of every phase (camp, jungle and sea). The following day we could see broken lips and swollen eyes during the morning parade.

This helped boost our spirits. Training area was never a problem in Bandung. The centre could use padi fields, private properties and private buildings to conduct all forms of trainings. Property owners would gladly allow their premises to be used for such purposes. So much unlike Malaysia. Indonesians regard their armed forces as their saviour and therefore it is incumbent upon them to help in whatever manner possible. Our map reading exercises covered the surrounding areas of Batu Djadjar. To quote a few:

Kompas Chot
Hilltop to hilltop around the Batu Djardjar area. It could last a day or one whole night.
Kompas Churam.
Point to point crossing deep ravine or valley going down and up the steep side of rugged terrain.
Kompas Rawa.
Crossing miles and miles of swamp. Wading through mangroves that were subjected to the tides.
Kompas Jalan Kereta Api
Walking on railway tracks or bridges.
Kompas Sawa Padi.
Wading through padi fields that stretched miles and miles as far as the eyes could see. Two months into the training we moved to the mountain phase where we were taught mountain climbing, abseiling and rafting.

Occasionally, I was called to be the safety assistant and soon it became a permanent job for me. The instructors would call not only during rafting/river crossing but also during abseiling and mountain climbing. They had confidence in my ability. It was very fulfilling and an equally rewarding job but it was indeed tiring. I spent more hours than my colleagues on the job. I had little rest but I never complained. It was fun to be on the other end once in a while. Acting as safety assistant could be stressful and very frightening because we bore witness to some of the incidents that happened. Some injuries could be light but one or two could result in death or permanent disability.

One morning I witnessed five stretcher-bound casualties in front of my eyes. They were severely injured probably paralysed. They were moved out and that was the last time I saw them. We then moved to Situ Lembang for the jungle phase. This place was located on the highest point in Bandung near the famous extinct volcano, named Takuban Perahu. The weather up in the mountain was cold and damp. It was shrouded in mist and blanketed by clouds. The camp where we were billeted was sparse. We slept on bamboo splits and had neither a pillow or a blanket to protect us from cold and the chilling wind. We were exposed to the elements to toughen our mental strength and willpower. So they claimed. Offenders were summarily punished and were ordered to lay submerged in the freezing water and would be denied any dry clothing until the class was over. It was here that we were taught to live on treetops.

At night they would spray the trees with live bullets at an hour's interval to ensure that we remained in our perch. From the treetops we were taken to an area where we had to live on jungle ferns and wild shoots. During the three-day exercise we were provided with a few matchsticks, a packet of salt and nothing else. On the morning of the fourth day we had a huge grilled python and porridge for breakfast. This, apparently, marked the end of the jungle stage and the beginning of the long awaited Long March. How fitting. From the Ipoh Echo.(to be continued)
posted by D.Swami Gwekanandam @ 7:41 AM  
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