The following is excerpted from a letter from Corporal T. Hunter Brown, QOR, then serving with UN fores in Somalia – reprinted from The Rifleman magazine April 1993.
Fellow Riflemen: Our ops-tasking once again provided an opportunity not open to many Reservists when we were asked if we were interested in augmenting 3 Commando (3 CDO) in Somalia. Many names went on the list and those who were chosen began training for the mission ahead. Daily PT and training standards were the criteria used to choose those who would go on. A 2×10, a Regimental Ex, and an EPL followed for the airborne-qualified Reservists and all passed by more than acceptable standards.
In October we learned six to go would be QOR. QOR cap badges are represented in all three Commandos: Rifleman Noonan in 1 CDO, myself [Corporal Hunter Brown] and Corporal Ribarec in 2 CDO, and Glover and Solares along with Corporal Wolfe in 3 CDO.
Last minute changes resulted in peace-keeping becoming, for the first time, peace making. Op Cordon became Op Deliverance and our destinations went from Boussasso in the peaceful north to Belet-Dogle and finally Belet-Weyne in the hostile south. Chalk 1, the first planeload of Canadians bound for Somalia, departed Trenton on December 13 and we were off on a 36-hour ride with stops in Ireland, Crete and Djibouti.
2 CDPO conducted an air assault pm Belet- Weyne from Belet-Dogle in late December and, with the airfield secure, 1 and 3 CDO were flown in. Our position strengthened and spread out, service and support elements arrived, showers became more plentiful, and while we are still in IMPs, care packages and fresh ration supplements relieve the monotony.
Operationally 1 and 3 CDO are “Grizzly” equipped and no patrol and provide security for most of the Canadian Area of Operations. 2 CDO is responsible for the town of Belet-Weyne and its immediate area. The months of training and the operation itself have enabled us to employ the skills we developed with the elite of the Canadian Army. We have all participated in and conducted raids, roadblocks, crowd control and extensive patrolling. Heli-borne ops are to start soon.
While scorpions in Belet-Weyne are not as bad as they are at Belet-Dogle, dust the consistency of talcum powder eventually tries everyone’s patience. I now of no one who hasn’t done his job well or regrets having leapt at this opportunity.
Until we return to Canada, Queen’s Own personnel will continue to be represented in all three of the Airborne Regiment’s Commandos – and that may be a first!
Til our return, carry on!
T. Hunter Brown