This is a guest article by D. Alan Johnson, his latest book Asgaard explores the role of US military Contractors in far flung parts of the globe. D. Alan Johnson is well equipped to write not only Asgaard, but also this article. He is what he writes about! Since the mid 1980â€™s he has been a private military contractor – Simon
Over the years I have gathered lots of stories. Some interesting; some humorous. But in telling them to anyone under thirty, I have to deal with a huge wall of disbelief.
In my business older pilots are desirable for their experience and stability. But the rest of the company is filled with young men valued for their current education in advanced software integration. Many are the times that I have been holding forth about an old adventure, and a young man would walk over to a computer terminal and Google the facts to see if I am lying.
I am often rewarded with a, â€œWow. That really happened!â€ However, some stories have never been documented, and one young intel analyst was convinced that I made up the stories as I went along.
Stoney (not his real name) and I were ferrying an aircraft over the ocean, and with little scenery and many hours to go, I told the following story:
Back in the â€˜90â€™s I was flying a surveillance contract in Cabinda, a tiny province of Angola. Like Alaska, this piece of land is separated from the main part of the country, and almost swallowed up by the Congo. The northern section has some gold mines. But the real riches came when Gulf Oil Company tapped into a huge pool of sweet petroleum; oil so light that tankers mixed this oil with heavy crude to get better prices.
The Angolans hired my company to provide security around the border and the off shore oil platforms. We flew every night looking for pirates who liked to raid the platforms for equipment and hostages. Occasionally, we went up north to the gold area to catch a smuggler or two.
At that time, Zaire (now the Congo) was ruled by a despot named Mobutu, and he coveted the enclave of Cabinda for the oil, the gold, the port, and control of the mouth of the Congo River. But he feared the Angolan military, so he stayed out of Cabinda; most of the time. He saw his chance to take Cabinda when a guerilla leader arose and put together an army. They called themselves the FLEC, the Force for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda, and Mobutu poured in money and arms.
Now we had something more interesting than smugglers and pirates. At Angolaâ€™s request our intel unit went to work, and my company moved in some advisors. Soon we found out several facts about the movement.
â€¢Â Â Â The leaderâ€™s name was Bongo Bongo
â€¢Â Â Â His base was the village of Tondo Congo.
At this point Stoney snorted and said, â€œYouâ€™re just making this up.â€
â€œCould I make up something like this? Let me finish.â€
The struggle never really got off of the ground. Bongo Bongo gathered men and held training camps. We got some video from our surveillance plane, and processed intel from our agents in the villages.
During one of the training sessions, Bongo Bongo had his entire command staff at a class on Claymore mines. Apparently his demonstration was a bit too realistic. The Claymore exploded killing the class of twenty-five and blowing off both of Bongo Bongoâ€™s hands.Bongo Bongo was evacuated to Zaire and lived, but that was the end of the war.
â€œDave, you have got an imagination. You donâ€™t expect me to believe that, do you?â€ We finished the long flight in silence.
Several months later, Stoney came up to me at our office.
â€œDave, I sat by an older black guy on the Delta flight down, and he started telling me about being in Cabinda in the 90â€™s. He told me about a guerrilla leader named Bongo Bongo. I stopped him and asked, â€˜Do you know Dave Johnson?â€™â€
â€œDave Johnson, the pilot? Where is he now?â€
â€œSo you sat by Will Crager. He was the ground security chief for our operation.â€
â€œI guess I owe you an apology,â€ Stoney said. â€œI just couldnâ€™t buy the Bongo Bongo thing. But I guess itâ€™s true.â€
However, he still doesnâ€™t believe my other stories.
D. Alan Johnson