Australian SASR mission: The Battle of Aidabasalala, a short story by XavierJets. Date added: 2012-01-15. Times viewed: 1357.
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- Intro: An inexperienced 22-year-old Australian Special Air Services Regiment (SASR) F89 minimi light machine gunner takes part in a firefight in East Timor when 20 + Pro-Indonesian militia men attack his 6-man patrol.
Moto Meuculi Creek, East Timor, October 16, 1999
It was a balmy day out that morning on October 16, 1999. I had been in the Army for a little over 4 years at the time. I had only been a member of the Special Air Services Regiment, abbreviated SASR, pronounced sasser, for a little over 2 years. My time in SASR had thus far been fruitless. I had gone through training; brutal, endless training that had nearly killed me several times. Indeed our ranks lose far more men in training than we ever have in combat. By the way, just a short side note, I found it very, very odd that a year before I was accepted into the SASR and less than 2 months after the Port Arthur Massacre of April 28/29, 1996, 14 SASR operators died in a huge, horrific training “accident.” Hmm. Anyway, I had nearly killed myself becoming an SASR operator. Training brought to me to the edge of death a few times, not to mention you essentially had to give up your life to become an SASR operator. I hadn’t had a drink, a date or a social life in far too long. However, enough of my bitching, my main complaint was I had been in the SASR for a bit over two years and I hadn’t once fired a shot in anger. Not a single round and the only time I was happy, was when I was trigger happy. Dry spell was an understatement.
So there I was, a 22-year-old SASR operator, my team’s F89 minimi gunner/medic (a ridiculous combination if I ever saw one), trooping along for the 3rd straight day on a reconnaissance and observation patrol in East Timor. It was October 16th when it happened. I was bored stiff before it happened. Our mission was to observe and observe we did, we watched these Indonesian militiamen strut back and forth for hours. Then days. Yeah we had moved around some, but personally I didn’t find it suspenseful. My team was a pretty cool bunch of guys. There were just six of us out there, I was the only F89 minimi gunner, everyone else had M-4 carbines. Lance Corporal Fenny was a cool chap and the one I was closest with on the team. He could be counted on. Our team leader was a firm, but laidback veteran SASR operator with more than a decades’ worth of experience named Steven Oddy. Everyone was competent, deadly, cool, someone you could trust…they had to be! When it happened, I was daydreaming…I know unprofessional, but hey 2 years in special ops and no hostile bullets, why start now? I thought the first shot was the sound of popping champagne in the upcoming millennial New Year’s Eve party I was daydreaming of. Don’t berate, I made up for my initial reaction. I would fire over 200 rounds in the upcoming battle, more than anyone else in my squad in the nearly hour long battle.
The SASR squad fights off ambush, suffers no casualties, kills at least 5 Indonesian militiamen and wounds at least 3 others. The 22-year old F89 minimi gunner/medic kills 2 militiamen and wounds 1, achieving the vaunted inverted kill-to-wound ratio (as the Port Arthur gunman did). The squad is nationally lauded for it’s bravery and skill. Squad leader Steven Oddy receives the medal for gallantry. There are no further firefights during the rest of the East Timor deployment for the Australian Armed Forces. The 22-year-old F89 minimi gunner/medic stays on with the SASR and later deploys to Afghanistan in 2001/2002. Then later, after participating in the 2003 invasion of Iraq, he retires after 8 years of Army service. He claims in his retirement letter that, “We’ve gotten ourselves into quite a mess, God knows if we’ll ever get out of it, and if we ever do how many of us will have not lived to see that day?”
As of 1/10/12, 34 Australians have been killed and over 213 have been wounded in combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001.
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