Mark Povey - Into a war zone

Running time
2 min 5 sec
Department of Veterans' Affairs


We got off the plane. As I said, we got given our helmet, a ballistic vest, and our weapon and we boarded a couple of minibuses and the outgoing commanding officer of the contingent, took us on a trip around the airport, took us on a trip to the other Australian compound which overlooked the airfield, showed us around there and then we went to the main gate to the airport to travel across the university compound. And as we arrived at the gate, having been in country, about an hour, gunfire started happening outside the gates.

So it was like, "Oh my God, this is for real now". We just waited in the vehicle and we sat in these vehicles for about 40 minutes, or thereabouts, and then we' got the all clear and they opened the gates and we were out in the streets. There was people walking the streets, local Somalis walking the streets and the first impression I got was that everything had been destroyed. There was no infrastructure.

They had destroyed the water plant, the electricity plan. So obviously, there was no power in country, there was no water in country and the place was, well it was a war zone. Everywhere you looked there was bullet holes. None of the locals had anything of significance. Everybody sort of lived day to day and the reality set in that this was a country that was in a lot of trouble. I suppose we were just hoping that the small bit of job that we were going to do was going to be helpful for the time we were there. But it was a real eye opener, that this is what happens to a country in wartime.

Was this page helpful?
We can't respond to comments or queries via this form. Please contact us with your query instead.