Most of the encounters I experience were either in a village or at a place near one. The civilian contacts most often took place, of course, in a village or in their crop fields. One day, we were sent to a village where smoke was observed by a recon plane the day before. The village was known to be a hot spot at one time but during the time we were there, the bandit activities had all but ceased in the region. Expecting a recurrence of bandit activity, we went in hot, “full combat gear”.

Once we arrived we saw villagers gathered in the center of the village mourning and one of the huts burnt to the ground.

As precautionary procedures, we secured the perimeter and conducted a search of the village. As the village was being secured, one of the villagers told us what had happened to our interpreter. He said a group of men had come to the village about a full moon ago, and taken away the husband of the woman who had set fire to her own home. The husband was found dead not too far away from the village following the day he was taken. The woman, the widow, had prepared everything that was to be cleaned up and gave away some of her possessions. She made sure there was nothing left that other villagers would have to do on her behalf after she had committed suicide.

It took her about a month to get ready to kill herself and left no traces of their existence. Even going as far as burning down her own home.

The murdered husband evidently had different political beliefs then the regime back then and someone remembered that.

After witnessing these kinds of atrocities time after time, it did nothing but to fuel our passion for pursuing the perpetrators who had no humanity in them and hang them by the neck until they died. Slowly.

The Widow