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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Terumbu Semarang Barat Kecil

Selain Pulau Layang Layang, Malaysia turut menuntut Terumbu Semarang Barat Kecil. Nuri dari No 5 Skuadron terlibat ketika pembinaan tugu di atol tersebut.

Nuri membuat detasmen di atas KD SRI BANGGI MAHAWANGSA

Bermulanya pembinaan tugu

Bahan pembinaan diangkut dari kapal ke atol dengan 'burung besi'

Hak Malaysia. Wira-wira di belakang tabir - anggota RAJD, PASKAL, TUDM, TLDM

Satu pemandangan yang mengusik jiwa - 'in the middle of nowhere'

Ini berita mutakhir tentang terumbu yang dituntut oleh Filipina...


En Saifuddin...Terima kasih.

Nota: Saya teruja apabila melihat buku sedang dicetak. Tapi, dua hari sudah, pencetak memberitahu bahawa mesin mengalami kerosakan dan mereka terpaksa 'outsource' ke pencetak lain. Menurut beliau, buku mungkin siap pertengahan April, Insya-Allah. Apa nak dikatakan...Cubaan! Selain itu, ketika ini saya sedang menunggu respons daripada pihak tertentu terhadap rayuan saya...Cubaan! Sesiapa yang berhajat untuk menulis dan menerbit buku bersendirian DAN JAHIL tentang prosidur, hubungilah 'Consultant' ini, jangan risau - FOC. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Sungguh Menakutkan

Pada 26 Mac 2011, saya telah terbang ke Subang dengan pesawat 'Firefly' untuk menziarah ibu saya yang kurang sihat. Sementara menunggu waktu penerbangan, terbaca laporan akhbar Utusan Malaysia dan juga The New Straits Times tentang lesen juruterbang palsu di India. Macam mana isu ini boleh berlaku? Bagaimana pihak berkuasa di negara tersebut boleh 'terlepas' pandang perkara yang boleh mengorbankan nyawa manusia? Eh...Eh...Sungguh menakutkan!

Perkara ini terbongkar  kerana penumpang membuat aduan terdapat juruterbang yang kerap membuat 'hard landing' semasa mendarat. Apabila pihak berkuasa menyiasat, didapati terdapat beberapa juruterbang yang kesahihan lesen penerbangan mereka meragukan. Keadaan begini tidak mungkin berlaku di Malaysia kerana Jabatan Penerbangan Awam (JPA) mengawal ketat pemberian lesen juruterbang.

Juruterbang mesti lulus peperiksaan bertulis dalam berbagai subjek seperti 'Air Law', 'Loading', 'Tecknical on Type', dll, sebelum diuji oleh pemeriksa secara praktikal menerbangkan jenis pesawat yang dikehendaki. Saya telah memilih helikopter Alouette 111.  Sebagai seorang juruterbang TUDM, kami diberi pengecualian beberapa subjek. Ketika saya mengambil 'Airline Transport Pilot's Licence (Helicopter/Gyroplanes) (ATPL)' pada 1992, saya hanya perlu mengambil 3 subjek sahaja, iaitu Air Law, Technical dan Loading.

Lesen ATPL saya (lama dah 'mati')

Para penumpang pesawat terbang...Janganlah ada sebarang keraguan...'you're in the safe hands of qualified, highly competent and experienced  pilots' whose licences are issued by our DCA', Insya-Allah. Bukan mudah untuk mendapat lesen penerbangan di negara ini! Semua juruterbang yang lesennya dikeluarkan oleh JPA memenuhi kriteria yang telah ditetapkan. 

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Kelahiran Sebuah Pulau

Balik kepada Terumbu Layang Layang@Stesyen Lima@Pulau Layang Layang (di sini). Saya cuba mendapatkan gambar fasa pertama di mana penempatan penginapan anggota PASKAL dan 'hangar' dibina di atas tanah yang telah ditebus guna dari laut tapi tak berhasil. Jadi, saya terpaksa membuat bulatan kepada kawasan terbabit dalam gambar ini...


Setelah menghubungi PW2 Saifuddin (B), beliau telah menghantar gambar yang saya cari-carikan...
Fasa pertama pembinaan 'Pulau Layang Layang' di era saya - masih dalam pembinaan

 Dri kiri: Sjn Saifuddin, Lt (U) Azib  

En Saifuddin...Terima kasih.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Keindahan Maligan

Pembaca...Punyalah saya mencari gambar-gambar, selain yang terpapar  di sini, yang melibatkan sebuah Nuri ditimpa kemalangan di Maligan tapi tidak berhasil. Baru-baru ini, saya cubalah nak belajar semula tentang facebook. Terdapat satu mesej daripada PW2 (B) Saifuddin, KU saya ketika di No 5 Skn. Beliau telah cuba menghubungi saya semenjak Okt 2010 tapi saya tak perasan kerana tidak membuka facebook sekian lama. Namun demikian, dengan tunjuk ajar isteri, saya telah mula buka facebook dan seterus menghubungi beliau dan mencadangkan agar menghantar gambar-gambar ketika kami berkhidmat di TUDM Labuan.

Salah satu gambar yang dihantarnya ialah Nuri yang sedang terbaring di Maligan. Sungguh sayang sekali gambar ini lambat diterima untuk dimasukkan dalam buku saya!!

M23-17 berbaring menikmati keindahan Maligan

Dari kiri: Sjn Saifuddin, mendiang Lt (U) James Tinggom, saya, Sjn Jaafar. OD H557 Juliet One pada 3-4 Ogos, 1984 (bermalam di Kota Kinabalu) - Penerbangan VVIP  

Beliau turut menghantar gambar-gambar ketika pembinaan Terumbu Layang Layang. Saya akan siarkan nanti, Insya-Allah.

En Saifuddin...Terima kasih.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Masih Mencuba

Saya telah menghantar coretan ini melalui e-mel kepada mereka yang saya percaya mampu
membuat 'kejutan' kerana kedudukan dan jawatan yang mereka sandang...
Assalamualaikum Tan Sri/Dato',

Adakah wira-wira Bukit Kepong = 'Alamo Malaysia'  yang sedia berkorban nyawa mereka, dan terkorban, kerana mempertahankan negara tidak memenuhi kriteria Anugerah Perkasa - SP, PGB, JPP & KPK? Dengan kedudukan dan pengaruh yang sedia ada, saya percaya Tan Sri/Dato' berupaya melakukan sesuatu agar wira-wira tersebut diiktiraf secara rasmi oleh negara dengan penganugerahan darjah berkenaan. Saya berharap '...Terpulang kepada Agensi yang mereka berkhidmat untuk mencalonkan mereka' dan 'implikasi kewangan' tidak dijadikan alasan. Anggaplah'pengorbanan' Tan Sri/Dato' mencalonkan mereka ini sebagai satu fardu kifayah! 

Akhir kata, fikir-fikirkanlah.:) happy

MEJAR NOR IBRAHIM BIN SULAIMAN TUDM (B)

Pada jam 1415, saya terima sms daripada Dato' Zaini Hassan, Utusan Malaysia'.... 'InsyaAllah nanti saya embed dalam kolum Cuit saya'. (Kolum beliau setiap Rabu). 
Harapan menerima respons daripada yang lain-lain tu, tak salah kalau saya katakan 99.99% probabiliti e-mel tersebut berakhir dalam tong sampah saja. Siapalah mejar pencen ni. Memang benar kata 'Anonymous' dalam komen beliau '...x abis2 dgn kerja dok mgira pingat'.  Tak apa... Pada saya, jika gomen menyanjung tinggi wira-wira sukan sebegitu rupa, mengapa tidak wira-wira yang sanggup berkorban agar mereka (wira sukan) boleh mengharumkan negara? Janji saya telah mencuba dan akan terus mencuba, Insya-Allah. Mana le tahu, kalau dilembutkanNya hati mereka yang membuat keputusan dan kalau ada rezeki, tut...tut...4 Jun nanti  wira-wira Bt Kepong akhirnya dianugerah dengan Darjah Perkasa, Insya-Allah. Tak cuba...mana nak tahu!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sekadar 1 Perbandingan

Masih lagi tentang Bukit Kepong (di sini) kerana terbaca rencana Utusan Malaysia berkenaan Bt Jenalik.

...Wira-Wira PDRM yang enggan menyerah diri apabila segerombolan pengganas komunis (PK) yang berjumlah melebihi 100 orang mengepung Balai Polis Bukit Kepong pada 23 Feb 1950. Mereka telah menentang musuh  sehingga ke akhir hayat. Respons arwah Sarjan Jamil terhadap seruan PK untuk mereka menyerah diri.....

'Kami orang-orang polis tidak akan menyerah diri. Biar kami mati di sini. Bukit Kepong menjadi tanah kubur kami'...

Mangsa terbakar hangus apabila semua bangunan dibakar

Pengiktirafan kepada wira-wira negara tersebut.....

Tertawannya kesemua 32 orang xtremis agama, Al-Maunah, yang berakhir pada 6 Julai 2000 termasuk mereka yang menyerah diri, oleh anggota Pasukan Keselamatan -  ATM & PDRM...

Rencana "Jejak memori Bukit Jenalik" (di sini), Utusan Malaysia 19 Feb 2011

Pengiktirafan kepada wira-wira negara terbabit...


Hanya sekadar renungan di hujung minggu sekiranya ada masa yang terluang!!!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Memperingati Wira-Wira Bt Kepong

Pembaca...Baru habis baca 'Chapter 9' buku "A DOCTOR IN THE HOUSE, The Memoirs of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad"...Sungguh menarik.  Beliau turut menyentuh peristiwa 'Bukit Kepong' (di sini) pada muka surat 117 & 118 berikut....



Sebenarnya saya ada menghantar sms kepada seorang MP pada 15 Feb 2011 mencadangkan agar beliau membawa isu ini dalam persidangan Parlimen yang sedang bersidang sekarang. Malah, pagi tadi, jam 0649, sekali lagi saya menghantar sms '...Salam. Peristiwa 'Bukit Kepong'  dah difilemkan, dicerita dalam akhbar, dipamer di  Muzium PDRM. Terakhir tercatat dalam buku 'A DOCTOR IN THE HOUSE' oleh Tun Dr Mahathir, ms 117 & 118. Tidakkah wira-wira negara ini layak menerima Anugerah Perkasa - SP, PGB & KPK? Harap isu ini dapat dibawa ke persidangan Parlimen yang sedang berlansung sekarang ini. Terima kasih.' Respons beliau ialah '...Salam. Saya sudah bawa dlm ucapan perbahasan titah di raja pd 8hb mac. tk.'

Jadi, saya pun melayari 'hansard' di laman sesawang Parlimen. Apa yang dibangkitkan ialah tentang arwah Jen Tun Ibrahim dan arwah Lt Adnan...tiada langsung menyentuh wira-wira Bukit Kepong! Jawabnya, melayanglah sms ini '...Dah baca hansard. Dato' tidak menyebut wira2 Bt Kepong, hanya arwah Jen Tun Ibrahim & Lt Adnan. Anyway, tk'. Ingat dah tutup kes. Tiba-tiba pada jam 1104, terima sms '...Ok..masa menteri jawab akan d bangkit'. Kita tunggu dan lihat sajalah.

Pembaca...Sekiranya anda mengenali seseorang yang berpengaruh, mengapa tidak 'sound-sound'kan sikit agar negara menganugerah Darjah Perkasa kepada wira-wira berkenaan. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Down The Memory Lane

These are pictures sent by Lt Xxxxxx accompanying the posting of "Whatever Happened To Baton 1" (here)...  

Arwah Lt Col Hasbullah Yusof (Bond) (inset) killed (Brig Gen Dato') in a Nuri crash in Lundu River, Sarawak, on 18 Dec 1989

The late Capt (U) Choo & arwah Capt (U) Mustaffa Kamal - perished on 26 April 1976 with 9 others 

Lt Shabani (retired Brig Gen Dato') at the well-remembered Gubir Camp

The unsung heroes. In the background is Gubir Camp's Ops Room

2Lt Xxxxxx inspecting his fleet of Mercedes Benz

2Lt Rajasaikaran of RGK - Location? (Secret)

Training the marshaling of Nuri by 16 AD (HU) at Tekah (Taiping) Airfield - compliment of Saudara Raizal (the son of arwah Mustaffa Kamal)

Nota: Sesiapa yang sedia berkongsi gambar Kem Gubir, sila e-melkan kepada saya.

Lt Xxxxxx & Saudara Raizal...Thank you.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Tidak Memberangsangkan

Pada 5 Mac, Pak Menteri Pertahanan telah menyematkan PJM kepada 11 orang warga tentera, termasuk 'Abah' yang telah memohon semenjak 2008 lagi. Tahniah Encik. Mungkin saya akan menerimanya apabila ada PRK di Jitra/Kubang Pasu atau pun PRU 13 nanti....Wallahualam....He...He...He.

Tapi apa yang menarik perhatian saya ialah apa yang Pak Menteri nyatakan seperti yang terpapar dalam laporan akhbar - 'Pembayaran Ex-gratia'.  Salah satu daripada 2 berita yang pasti mengembirakan para warga veteran ATM yang diumumkan oleh YAB PM pada 10 Oktober 2010 (di sini) ialah pembayaran ex-gratia ini. Engkohnya baru nak bincang dengan PM...Eh...Eh...Eh!!!

Anda ingat saya nak duduk diam saja apabila membaca berita tersebut? Sudah tentu tidak. Mana boleh saya melepaskan peluang ini. Jadi, pada 5 Mac jam 2018, melayanglah sms ini kepada Pak Menteri '...Assalamualaikum Dato'. Mohon Dato' turut membawa sekali isu elaun untuk JPP, PTU & KPK kpd YAB PM. Hanya beliau saja yang boleh menangani 'kedegilan' JPM menentang pemberian elaun tersebut. Terima kasih.'

Sepertimana yang 100% dijangkakan, sepi-sesepinya. Tak jadi masalah....Kalau tak cuba mana nak tahu! 

Saya telah mengesyorkan kepada RAFOC agar membawa isu ini kepada KP JHEV ketika pertemuan AJK RAFOC dengan KP pada 18 Februari 2011. RAFOC tidak memberi sebarang maklum balas kepada e-mel saya yang bertanyakan hasil pertemuan tersebut. Jadi, saya telah menghantar e-mel kepada KP untuk bertanyakan kedudukan isu berkenaan. Menurut beliau (tanpa edit) '....Dan d antara lain perkara yg telah d kemukakan adalah isu JPP,PTU,KPP. Saya tlh menjelaskan dgn agak panjang lebar bahawa Jhev melalui Mindef telah memperjuangkan isu ini dgn begitu gigih sekali. Isu ini d sokong sepenuhnya oleh PAT. Tetapi saperti yg Tuan ketahui JPM masih lagi tidak berganjak dgn pendiriannya mengenai hal ini. Tuan.saya rasa kita bersesama harus terus memperjuangkannya dan melobi agar JPM mengubahkan kedudukan mereka berkaitan dgn perkara tsb'.

Itulah maklumat mutakhir tentang isu elaun yang tak tahu bila nak di'sayonara'kan!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

"Baton 1" - Pt 3

The final part of "Whatever Happened To Baton 1" here ....

At this stage of the Ops, some of the high-ranking staff officers were no more around and so was SEP Abdullah who had long gone. Those officers manning the Tactical HQ that were staying in the Offices’ Mess, occupied time playing scrabbles. I had not seen such keen adults competing each other just to form words to score as many points. However the long days took the toll out of them as four officers who were playing and those behind them were unable to realise or contest the word wolves, in plural is spelt wolfs instead. The Re-Sup was still done occasionally but not as hectic as the first one and more often aircrafts were not available. The BEME officer, Chan Wan Yeong who 'acted' also for the BSTO, Capt Nor Shahid KP informed me that the fresh rations laying the whole day on the field will have to be written off, as the aircraft will not be availabled again the next day.

I went to the MT garage where my men are. Most drivers slept in their respective vehicle using the curve windscreen metal IS net and turned it into a hammock while the AD and Supply men take refuge between the ration boxes. Being a KP, one of them who they called him Ismail Capoi, can make a serunding out of canned 'beef or mutton halal' and I like to join and have dinner with them for a change. I hinted to the Supply Corporal what Chan had mentioned and he said, "Itu apa susah tuan.. ration tu kita issue kat Kem dan yang Kem punya yang datang esok, kita ganti dan letak lah kat padang". I ate my dinner in a double quick time and went back to the Officers’ Mess anxiously looking for Chan and said to him, "Chan, what was that.. you mentioned about the fresh ration just now?". When he repeats it, I told him the info I got from the Corporal and seemingly with a proud impression that I initiated the idea. Chan pause for a moment however as expected he then replied, ‘yeah I already thought of that also’. Lack of positive progress and uncertainty on the situation on that moment during the Ops, I must say that I was somewhat losing the gung-ho even to think and come out with a simple solution like that, though I am a trained AD officer. Honestly no one seems to be able to think straight anymore and no wonder the Medical Officer, a seasoned look Major Sethuraman, an expatriate doctor from India who smokes with his cigarette clutched betweens his middle finger, proposed to the Brigade Commander to provide beer to the Mess. Another old-timer was Major Ong of Signal who was the 6th Brigade Camp Commandant who looks like a towkay, one evening took Chan and me for makan at the rest house and we went there in a Signal Land Rover and with him driving without escorts. 

I shared the wooden plank room at the Mess with Capt Sulaiman, the Brigade G3 (Ops), who by his maturity, presumed were already a substantive Capt however he didn't mine my antics whenever we teased each other. Of late, I observed that he was always to himself considering being away from his beloved family for quite some time now. In the Ops room, the Brigade Major was discussing a message received where Thai villagers near the border were picketing in protest, where they claimed that our soldiers violated their area and damaging crops and slashing their young rubber and fruit trees during the insertion of our troops along the border. The BM however dismissed that as the work of the Communist sympathisers.

That weekend saw Capt Sulaiman smiling as he took his haversack out as he was allowed to RTB to Sungai Petani with the Nuri which en-route to Butterworth which by now Chan, who was responsible for the manifest called it Sunshine Airways because Pilots were always giving the weather as excuse when unable to fly. That Sunday, together with a team of AD, we flew to Weng and conducted Re-Sup for the 16 RMR. I spent time enjoying the much said about Weng's crispy goreng pisang with Yusof, a Sandhurst trained Brave Mohicans while waiting the Nuri to return each time doing the sorties. Half way through, the Copter landed and the AQM gave a hand signal for me to get my team onboard. When we reach Gubir and asked the TUDM liaison officer what’s going on, he gave me another of the TUDM famous excuse, no more flying hours!
The next morning I was awaken by Sulaiman entering the room however I do not have the chance to speak to him as he had to rush back to the Ops room for the Monday morning prayer. I considered myself as the 'heard but not to be seen type' and of late, seldom attend the meeting and further more I get instructions from the BSTO. While having my breakfast, I saw a group of officers walking out from the Ops room towards the helicopter that was parked in the middle of the field. I can easily recognise Sulaiman and the two Pilots who I regularly worked with during Re-Sup that are coming to take away the grounded Nuri that was shot earlier of which has been repaired and made serviceable. The other two Pilots who would be flying the aircraft were noticeable with their flying helmets on, however there was one officer walking among them which I have not seen before.

When they took off, I went to the Tactical Head Quarter’s block, which was just a distance away from the Mess and just hanging around at the corridor. The new BASO, Major Chin and his assistant Capt Wahab was talking near the radio room. It looks to be like any other day when suddenly the radio signaler on duty burst out from the radio room and immediately informed, "Tuan., ada two Mayday (distress) calls from Baton One". Wahab rushed into the room and took control of the set and tried communicates with the Nuri, call signed.. Baton One. Everyone around the room tried listening hard for any response and Wahab continue and this time I heard him giving instructions and echoed words that I will never forget. "hello Baton One., if you cannot make it to Gubir, please land at Green Patch.. repeat.. please land at Green Patch".

Green Patch, the name that you are now familiar with, was a code name of an area designated for emergency landing for helicopters during the bombing attack on the enemy camp. Hoping that the Nuri may have just experiencing communication breakdown, they radioed Mong Gajah informing and asking if the aircraft is in their vicinity. Mong Gajah is a camp situated further up Gubir camp with TA posts along the way. There was an observation post at its main entrance where a beautiful carved wooden Bren gun was mounted and from a distant, the thing looks real. There was an incident in another occasion where an officer from the 3 RMR lost his leg and partially blinded in a mine explosion when pursuing the enemy. The incident they said was from much earlier contact with the enemy who was spotted and presumably coming for the dummy gun on the OP that was left unmanned and the mine being near to the camp rightfully could be of our own. At other times when I said to my drivers, "OK, saya mahu tiga orang untuk pergi ka Mong Gajah", I see some of them turning their faces the other way or pretending looking down to the ground but with their eyes still glancing at me in anticipation who I would be selecting to go and nobody wish to be picked as the hilly and winding road to Mong Gajah, to describe it simply, was bloody dangerous even with escorts. With a stern voice I added, "Saya pun akan ikut sama" and I'm happy to see them smile in approval. Most of the drivers of C Platoon, 20 Transport Coy was about our age and I can imagine that while we were in Sebatang Karah during Pre-Cadet days, they were at PLR doing the recruit training.

The Nuri where Sulaiman and Co boarded was scheduled on routine flight to Target Bravo sending water in Jerrycans to the stranded troops. It was situated down the valley like terrain with fallen timber trees presumably by the bombing. I have been there once, piloted by Capt Choo who maneuvers the copter expertly with the guide of his AQM, avoiding the tail rotor from slamming into the protruding timber trunks and he was also one of those on board. It will be a disaster if the aircraft is not either in Gubir or Mong Gajah within the next 20 minutes. When that moment past, Major Chin ran down the field and took off with an allouette copter. About not more than half an hour later we heard his voice over the radio, "see smoke billowing from the border and approaching..” Then we heard him saying the inevitable, "confirmed it’s our aircraft and chances of survival nil !" 

I glanced towards the Brigade Commander to sort of wanting to see his reaction in that rare situation, when he walks into the Ops room. Soon the allouette return and all eyes focused towards Major Chin who hurried into the Ops room to report to the Commander. The time was around 1100hrs and everybody went about busy facilitating each other with info and Chan was desperately trying to recall who was on the ill fated Nuri for him to prepare the manifest. Prior to Target Bravo, the aircraft landed and unloaded mortar bombs at Mong Gajah and picked up three paxs including a Lieutenant from 3 RMR who was to RTB to attend a course, his batman together with a Sergeant and two Komando’s JAPU personnel on board, a total of twelfth soldiers. Later we found out that the Private soldier was infact left behind, making the final total of all in all, eleven perwira negara yang telah gugur, adding the AQM, the four Pilots and including the one that I did not recognise earlier, who was a Major, coming from RBCO Songkla, as advance party to prepare a joint meeting with the Thai counterparts in regards to the picket and rallies by the Thai villagers.

The first body bag arrived was that of the Sergeant whose body was intact as he was thrown away from the burning wreckage. After a short prayer the body was flown out of Gubir and soon the gruesome task of extracting the burnt bodies begin. I saw two body bags with the letter P marked on both bags indicating that there were the Pilots and knowing the Pilot Capt was a Chinese and the Co Pilot a Malay, I sensed that there will be a problem in identifying them and that goes to each of the body. Soon more brightly painted Nuris came, as they were the VIP designated aircraft, bringing the top brass officers including CAF. One person who dressed differently from the others as he was in bush jacket and wearing songkok was none other than Dato Mokhtar Hashim the then Deputy Minister of Defence. Capt Mohd Isa of Signal, successfully managed to erect dia-poles or what have they to enable the GOC, Maj Gen Dato Mahmud Sulaiman to speak directly to the PM. "Yes Sir, Yes Sir.. I will do that Sir.. Yes Sir". That’s about all I can mostly hear him saying as I walk away from that block as it has become congested with other senior ranking officers and with much respect I don’t see any reason for me to be busy there.

I can relate events that goes on but it has no bearing to the role of Kor Perkhidmatan, me and my men that we have rendered and served full heartedly in that Ops Gubir and let just say the rest is history and everybody has their story to tell. So whatever happened to Baton One? Did anyone ever said that we lost the battle that left an ugly scar to the history of the Armed Forces or did anyone in that Agong's birthday ceremony in front of the Dataran Merdeka and those conferred with Tan Sri and Datuk later in the istana that day, realised and remember when seeing the helicopters that make the fly past with the flags.., years ago there were men who perished to make what Malaysia is today. There was no flag when the last Nuri makes a lintasan hormat that rattled the roof of the Gubir Ops room on the last day of Ops Gubir and few days later, when the KP with empty fuel drums and left over rations roll out from the Yellow Brick Road of Kem Gubir, I look back sadly thinking of Sulaiman in that 'joy ride' of that dreadful morning of 26 April 1976 and whatever happened to Baton One. The end.                                     
                    
 Any gunner  out there willing to share your side of the story on this tragedy? You're most welcome to  e-mail the story to me. 

Lt Xxxxxx...Thank you.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

"Baton 1" - Pt 2

Continuation of the story here...

In any Ops the troops that are directly engaged with the enemy are those that are in the limelight with the supporting arms follow suit but the Air Force, they were in the class of their own and the Pilot, well… you know. The logistics units and guys like me are seldom recognised and I just go about doing my job as I see best and I take pride to say that my 'driver air loaders' got my commendation on their good job that day considering the constraints and lack of decent equipments. We don't have call sign assigned to us or even walkie-talkies to go around with. Using improvised discharge conductors and sharing goggles and at times operated obsolete rotary pumps and in those days you don't dream of wearing bulletproof vest. Believe me, there was on a different occasion, a driver came back from his routine sending rations, was fired upon and with bullet holes to his vehicle without the escort armoured cars even realised what was going on and I don't remember we make a fuss over this. If you have been in an APC you can imagine how it sounded from inside.


Having clear advantage and with the harassing fire power over the enemy camp still on, I look upon this Ops as to get on level term with the Communist Terrorists. On the 7 of April 1975, during battalion roulement between 13 MTA and the 7th Ranger Regiment, returning back from Mong (or Nong) Gajah towards Gubir, two of the three vehicles in a convoy carrying a Platoon from 7th Ranger with Skot Syed Ikmal Hashim, as the Platoon Commander was ambushed, killing over half a dozen soldiers including one of my drivers, Pemandu Hussain from C Platoon, 20 Transport Coy. However I am proud to say that this transport unit has been the most combatant during that time where I was the Platoon Commander. 

The Ferret scout car escorting from the rear, raced towards the ambushed zone was however disabled with its gun and radio antennae destroyed. Miraculously a bullet from the enemy fires went through the barrel of the armored car Browning machine gun. It was a tense and dramatic moment when the daring enemy, a woman bandit came down from the slope of the road cutting and trying to finish off those soldiers with some already wounded that went for cover under the vehicles and just then when the Ferret arrived. Both trucks stop along side each other, probably in certain sense provided wider shelter for the soldiers. One of the Rangers died in an assaulting position still clutching on to his weapon which has the empty casing stuck to its chamber. The few seconds needed to do the TSM may have cost his life. 

Three days later in pursuit of the above incident, when 6th Brigade was just about to mount a major Ops, the Brigade Intelligence Officer, Capt Hardev Singh, leads an advance party in a Land Rover, followed with convoy of trucks carrying a company from the 17 RMR. Hardly just few miles further up Gubir camp, the advance column was ambushed killing him and several soldiers including the Corporal of the armoured scout car. Two of the 20 Transport Coy drivers were shot and seriously wounded however survived. Pathetic, and just about everything went wrong for the 17 RAMD Coy including reason for the Brigade IO to be there. Already seriously wounded he can only afford to verbally challenge the bandits before they gained control over him. It was a rampage and among other things the enemy took off with them were some weapons and a radio signal set and as such every set of that model has got to be re-crystallized. So having suffered with all those tragic loses, it was time to retaliate or at least get even.

However the event that follows in the next few days and throughout the Ops, to say the least was horrific. The nearest of the bombs hit was some 200 yards away from the enemy camp and the worst bloody part was that the assaulting ground troops especially the Commandos were halted during their advance assault by enemy's booby traps and mine explosions. Almost daily, scenes so devastated, soldiers with legs, arms blown off and some blinded, were Medevac out of the location. So many were the mines and booby traps surrounding the camp, some real, some dummies, that the troops were practically neutralised and eventually set based in that area that was code named Target Bravo.

The enemy camp was sophisticated than once thought. There was an escape tunnel leading out of the camp and it was when the bomb disposal unit came to clear it that a mine exploded killing the L/Cpl and injuring others including the Officer who by this incident was later honoured with the Pingat Gagah Berani. That was the first heavy casualty in that Ops and the days that follow are nothing but despair. There was still no enemy insight and the Liaison Officers representing the various Battalions were repeating the same tactical sitreps during morning prayers chaired by the Brigade Commander. 'Berikut adalah kedudukan sub unit sub unit 3 Melayu Di Raja..' predictably that was how they make their intro however non was so amusing than Skot Alias ‘Navy’ of Engineer when he related in detail how he and his men were greeted when they conducted search operation in a suspected Chinese village by demonstrating the sound of their alarm: 'Ting ting ting ting., Tong tong tong tong', full heartedly and with suspense however that was about all to it of his achievement in that search.

The Nuri that was grounded after been shot upon earlier on, rested at the side of the field in the middle of the Gubir camp and crewmen shuttled from Butterworth Air Base daily, repairing the damage.  Before sunset, the Arty fires their 105mm into the mountain behind the camp and an Allouette flew around spectacularly, firing at the forested mountain. You'll hear two explosions, first when the shots bursting from the gun followed by another slightly bigger explosion when the 20mm cannon balls hitting the trees and the branches seen fallen off. This routine firing perhaps intended to scare away the enemy or wild animals, elephant maybe, so we can sleep well during the night. One day the copter’s firing stop abruptly and they landed when the gun exploded inside the aircraft and quite seriously injuring the AQM cum gunner. There was also an incident where the Arty shell fell short just behind the Officer’s Mess but luckily it did not explode and saw some officers in their towel scrambled out of their room.

Around the second week of the Ops, its show time again for the driver air loaders, as it was time for the Re-Supply and it was massive considering the amount of troops to be supplied in the forward line. Coordinating meeting and sorties schedules were handed, the night before, to QM and RQMS of the various units. In the morning the camp looks like Pasar Tani with fresh and pack rations in boxes placed around the LPs ready to be air lifted into locations. There's no substitute for good planning and executions and like pros we go about doing our tasks without a flaw. If the sorties are done to more than one call signs at one go, you must know how to load with the exact number of rations i.e. the under slung with the cargo net to the first location and the next will be loaded nearest to the cargo door and so on. So when the Nuri approaches, the L/Cpl will marshal the aircraft into the LP and when rations of heavy boxes are loaded onboard, the aircraft will hover few meters, then a discharge conductor is touched to the pod for static electricity to flow out and the cargo net is then hooked to the aircraft. The hectic process repeated throughout the day with refueling in between. At the end of the day the Air Despatch men walk dragging the cargo net from the shoulder and with the probe on one hand, looks like victorious gladiators coming out of the arena.

The down thrust wind sometimes blows the raga ayam away and with chickens strewn all over. However one thing about this long service bad conduct chickens, was that they don't run away and the men just simply pick and put them back into the baskets. At times I went onboard to see for myself how the rations were delivered. The first impression was like fun fare or nowadays opening of supermarket's sale when I saw vibrant of so many marker balloons projecting out from the jungle canopies and as the Heli approach you'd see the marker sign with one or two sloppy men dressed in celoreng waving anxiously. While some pilots took effort to land their aircraft some depending on the situation, hovered some meters up and when rations were ‘free dropped’, they burst and scattered to the ground on impact, a sorry sight to see and then as the Heli climbs away you see more men dashing out from the undergrowth, picking up the broken up rations. 

Almost all the ground units put up great effort with an impressive DZ and took trouble to fell trees with the G 1098 store issued parangs so they can be easily spotted and if that's not enough, they fired very light flares and that’s how hungry they were. I can't help feeling pity for one particular unit where they could have just easily laid their x-ray one bar marker sign if they could have realised that there was a big jungle clearance just few yards away, of course hidden by trees if one is standing from the ground. Also it was not surprised, due to break down in communication and problems only best known to the pilot, to see the Copter returning back with the under slung net still dangling, unable to find the location. One such incident was when the ground troop wrongly fired red very light flares instead.

As days gone by, there were still without any positive development during the Ops and the only very good thing was that during this time, I received a letter from my sweetheart with her picture some more.. a morale booster indeed. 'Jauh jauh menyemai padi’, tidak lalang tumbuh sebendang. Harap harap kasih menjadi, dua jiwa berpasangan'. Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder so they said and to me she is stunning as like Helen of Troy, 'the face that can launch a thousand ships'. Hey., nak buat filem mesti lah ada cerita romance sikit with actress cantik macam Siti Nurhaliza, kalau tidak, siapa yang nak tengok. Anyway this Helen of Troy of mine is what soldiers refered as in those days and is now.. my Mak Andeh. Let’s dedicates the attachment IF to our Mak Andeh.

To be continued...