Part of my PTSD counselling involves sharing my story, so I figured some of the more appreciative would be among my own clan, knowing what some of you have also been through. My story begins early in 2013, and keep in mind certain details are with-held for the sake of national security. Operation KOBOLD: the deployment of up to 10 Canadian Armed Forces members to Pristina, Kosovo, to serve with the NATO-led Kosovo Force (KFOR). We were in charge of mentorship and had a movement detachment. I had been assigned my position after the Russo-Georgian war of 2008, as the situation in Eastern Europe began to escalate again. Recently, Ukraine has been having problems with Russian loyal citizens wishing for less NATO association, and want to go back to the Warsaw PACT era. The unfortunate thing is, they've been dealing with things like this for centuries. Before Russia was even Russia, there was Muscovy, Crimea was it's own independent nation, Austria and Hungary were world powers, etc., but the people have always been the people, separate from their governments. You may have heard of the suicide bombing of the train station just prior to the 2014 winter Olympics, performed by a woman, or that Russian military were on the lookout for what they called Beliye Kolgotki, the White Tights. Google them, they're a pretty cool "urban legend" that may or may not exist, but I digress.
The biggest thing we were unprepared for was the bombings and how they were performed. We learned our lessons from Vietnam: the enemy doesn't always wear a uniform. We learned our lesson from the second Gulf War: our enemy doesn't always fight in conventional ways, and has a different idea of self-sacrifice. What we weren't prepared for were women, and children aged 8 to 16 to be involved. Even with my worldly experience, I didn't think there was a people outside of Africa that raised their kids as warriors, but after speaking to some KFOR members who were in the same situation at their age, I found out it wasn't a matter of being raised that way. Eastern Europeans that live in war torn areas grew up in that sort of situation, and had to fight to survive. Some people saw no other way for their loved ones to survive than to sacrifice themselves.
It was almost afternoon, when we had reached our outpost to do a routine survey of the troops and equipment. This particular outpost was on the edge of the disputed border with Serbia, just north of Podujevo, so it saw a decent amount of traffic. A car pulled up to the checkpoint as I was in the guard station right adjacent. I saw the driver, a young mother of two kids, whom she had with her in the back seat. Pretty standard procedure, the KFOR was lenient with these types due to the number of families that had been separated by the military action. After she was cleared, I heard her car roll by maybe 10 feet, when time itself slowed to a crawl. Anyone that has had this misfortune of being around a car thats been turned into an IED knows there's a particular sound you usually hear. She hit the ignition switch again, making her engine sputter, and activating the bomb. I heard another member of my unit cry something out before the explosion, but at this point all I can recall is him yelling.
Some paneling from the car smashed through the plywood piece of crap guard station, destroying the entire left side of my body, but thankfully blocking any potential shrapnel from hitting me. After the blast, I was on my side, then back, then stomach, as I was extremely disoriented, the concussion from the blast messing with my equilibrium, making my ears ring louder than thunder. In situations like that, however, you're taught to collect yourself as quickly as possible in order to brace for counter-attack. Usually an IED blast like that is followed up with an armed insurgent skirmish. Thankfully there was none though, but they managed to kill 2 KFOR, fatally wound a Task Force Pristina agent, and caused 13 civillian wounded casualties, along with the irreparable damages caused to a LAV.
I share what I can at any given time, the details aren't always the clearest in my mind when I talk about it. I've been told I distract myself and beat around the bush, but if anyone's got any question, don't be afraid to ask, I don't bite.