To say that I enjoyed myself at the recent Rooiplaas gathering would be somewhat of an understatement…
Conceived by Nico Beneke and ably assisted by Johan Landman - the Chairman and Vice Chairman respectively - Rooiplaas hosts several get-togethers throughout the year with the aim of bringing together ex-SADF airborne soldiers to socialize, make new friends, and reacquaint themselves with old friends.
It has, since its inception, become a home for many men who served in the SADF’s airborne units and it is growing from strength to strength. What appealed to me is that this organisation is devoid of the politics and petty personal grievances some of the other veterans’ organisations are tainted with.
Chappies van Zyl, the man who twisted my arm to join Rooiplaas
Chappies van Zyl, one of my ex-airborne sappers from days long past, eventually gave me no choice but to join the Rooiplaas community and Nico and Johan were very gracious to accept me into their ranks. And so it was that I was invited to attend their get-together in Bloemfontein on 23 February 2017.
On arrival, I was given a Rooiplaas T-shirt and cap just to make sure I was able to blend-in and not stand out like a sore thumb.
I was both honoured and privileged to give a brief discussion to the men (and their wives) on Executive Outcomes and STTEP, their founding, deployments, operations and so forth. Some of the talk was also centred on the disinformation and myths regarding both EO and STTEP.
After my talk, I was awarded my Rooiplaas Certificate of Membership (#0245) that will take pride of place in my study.
However, the success of any such event depends on numerous players who are not always visible but whose contributions make such an occasion a great success.
Thank you to Chute Systems who were kind enough to allow Rooiplaas to use their magnificent Bloemfontein facility. One of the owners, Waldo Krähenbühl, was on hand at all times to give his support and assistance wherever he could. Sadly, his colleague and co-owner, Douw Raimondo, was elsewhere and could not attend the evening with us.
Andre Botha deserves a special thank you for taking control of the ‘ kitchen’ and preparing a great meal for us. The meal was way better than any of us had ever experienced in our army days. Nico provided the food we all enjoyed.
Some of the Rooiplaas members
To the members of Rooiplaas and their wives, thank you for accepting me into your ranks and for not falling asleep during my talk.
To Nico and Johan a special word of thanks for organizing the get-together and for being such great hosts. A great thank you also to Nico Beneke for accommodating me at his wonderful guesthouse and for getting up early to make me coffee and see me on my way.
And finally, a special thanks to Chappies for twisting my arm…
I look forward to the next Rooiplaas get-together…