Rafik’s Journey in Silent Heroes. An Oshkosh Vehicle

Rafik, the youngest character in Silent Heroes, When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for, undergoes a rather explosive journey in an Oshkosh vehicle belonging to the US Marines.

I hope you followed his footsteps thus far, from his home village of Nauzad, in the Helmand province of Afghanistan all the way to Camp Bastion, and through the Afghan desert.

The past – a journey of heroes in the pre-Oshkosh vehicle era

How interesting it was researching the vehicles used by the US Marines in Afghanistan! We are all familiar with the classical WWII image of a US soldier in a jeep.

US jeep WWII - journey heroes Oshkosh vehicle

With the need for an improved army vehicle dating back to the 1970s, it was in 1989 that new and improved combat vehicles, the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV – colloquial: Humvee) were first used and soon replaced all tactical vehicles. The Humvee first gained national fame during the First Gulf War.

the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV - colloquial: Humvee). journey heroes Oshkosh vehicle

After 9/11, when US troops were deployed in Afghanistan, the Humvee proved perfect on the non-existing roads and rough mountainous terrain.

The Humvee has been in use for 30 years. It was praised by soldiers for its off road capabilities and became so popular that even a civilian version was created, “I’ll take one in red.”

The civilian model Humvee
The civilian model Humvee

The Humvee was much liked by the soldiers in the “pre-IED” (Improvised Explosive Device) era. The soldiers would “customize” it by removing unnecessary armor and even doors, making the Humvee more maneuverable and increasing their visibility.

Came Iraq War, the use of IEDs and car bombs – and the Humvee’s popularity decreased. Its new armored doors weighed hundreds of pounds and were hard to open and additional armor to the turret decreased its road stability.

A new vehicle for the US Army: the Oshkosh

The Oshkosh M-ATV is the new a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle used by the US Army and the US Marines.

There are high chances that you have seen the Oshkosh before and its interior – on which info and images are hard to find as are classified. The Oshkosh was the guest star on Iron Man, alongside Robert Downey Jr.

And you will see the Oshkosh wherever US Army and Marine Corps will be deployed until 2060. The standard Oshkosh has a two-inch thick windscreen, a reversing camera, and a bulletproof skin.

As the Oshkosh vice president put it, these new army vehicles have “the protection of a light tank and the mobility of a Baja race truck.” – yet they are “light enough” that a Sikorsky Stallion helicopter can lift one, or even two in their light-arms-resistant form.

You can see below an Oshkosh lifted by a King Stallion Sikorsky CH-53K helicopter.

How is the Oshkosh different from a Humvee? Read on.

‘The Humvee, colloquial for HMMWV, short for High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle, was a four-wheel-drive no-joke combat vehicle primary used by the Army and Marines up until a couple of years back in both Iraq and Afghanistan. The increased number of patrol ambushes, IEDs and suicide attacks against such tanks on wheels soon forced the soldiers to think out of the box and bolt steel plates to their Humvees for protection. Add this extra weight to the already low design of the Humvee and the Pentagon saw itself forced to rush back to the drawing boards and come up with an improved design for a combat vehicle, this time calculated with the safety of its four occupants in mind. Something strong enough to withstand the blast of an IED placed on the road, yet light enough to be transported by a helicopter. Fast enough to allow the driver to take off in a dangerous situation, yet better suited to the uneven Afghan terrain. The Oshkosh JLTV (Joint Light Tactical Vehicle) came through and FOB Day owned a brand new one.

On Dunn’s request, Kent took his place on the driver’s ‘throne’, as they jokingly called any of the four seats inside the Oshkosh as opposed to the Humvee’s close to zero padding metal seats. Dunn took the gunner’s seat, on the left side behind the driver. Once the medical technician secured the child in the back seat an eerie silence settled inside the vehicle.

‘Listen!’ Kent’s eyebrows went up with his index finger.

Both Dunn and the technician cocked their heads.

‘I hear zilch,’ said Dunn preparing his video screen for the roof-mounted remote weapons station. ‘Ex-xactly,’ said Kent, watching the big gates swing open. ‘I have great appreciation for this bubble of toughness,’ he added, caressing the dark dashboard. Making use of the sleek touchscreen Kent looked like he was back in his gaming-days until his hand stopped on the auto gear-lever sticking out in the darkness. The muted hum of the Oshkosh’s V8 started at the simple press of a button and, after Kent slot it in into drive the truck began gliding forward.’

‘‘Bye-bye Humvee?’ Kent chuckled, ‘I love that stinky, creaky tough old-bull-dog.’

Silent Heroes by Patricia Furstenberg
Oshkosh US Marines new vehicle - journey heroes Oshkosh vehicle
The Oshkosh

‘The Oshkosh, an all-terrain, Mine-Resistant, Ambush-Protected vehicle was such a solid truck that nothing should have been able to shake it. In theory.

Silent Heroes by Patricia Furstenberg

Yet nowhere is safe in Afghanistan and, soon enough, the Taliban have adjusted their attack technique with the arrival of the new US Army vehicles, the Oshkosh.

Will Rafik survive this journey alongside the Silent Heroes in the Oshkosh vehicle that’s supposed to be IED proof? And where will he go next?

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Silent Heroes

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Movie Music Monday, Flying Over Africa – Out of Africa #OutOfAfrica #quotes #moviemusicmonday

Movie Music Monday, “Flying Over Africa”, music by John Barry, from “Out of Africa” via @PatFurstenberg #OutOfAfrica #quotes #moviemusicmonday

“When you have caught the rhythm of Africa, you find out that it is the same in all her music.”(Karen Blixen, “Out of Africa”)

out of africa - courtesy hippo wall papers -Out of Africa flyingIt has been many years since I first watched “Out of Africa”, yet what made a big impression on me then stayed with, helping me outline an era, sketch what it takes to be a resilient woman in an unfamiliar land and remember that nature’s beauty as well as people’s surprising humanity are everlasting treasures within reach.

“When in the end, the day came on which I was going away, I learned the strange learning that things can happen which we ourselves cannot possibly imagine, either beforehand, or at the time when they are taking place, or afterwards when we look back on them.”

Memorable aspects: John Barry’s music, Meryl Streep’s flawless Danish accent (she practiced her accent by listening to recordings of Isak Dinesen reading her own stories), Karen telling the story based on Denys’ first line:

“There was a wondering Chinese named Cheng Huan living in Limehouse and a girl named Shirley…”

the breathtaking views of the African game, the greatness of Ngong Hills, the coffee plantation with its noble Kikuyu people.

“Where did you get it?”
“Mombasa. Get in!”
“When did you learn to fly?”
“Yesterday.”

Out of Africa -Flying over Africa movie clip.

Isak Dinesen (the pseudonym of Danish author Karen Blixen) lived for seventeen years in British East Africa (now Kenya). Her autobiographical book “Out of Africa” together with additional material from one of her subsequent books, “Shadows on the Grass” adapted into a screenplay and directed by  into what we know as the magnificent movie we all know.

Below are a few of my favorite quotes from “Out of Africa”.

Karen’s precious memories of Denys shining a light on how deep their relationship was :

“He even took the Gramophone on safari. Three rifles, supplies for a month and Mozart. He began our friendship with a gift. And later, not long before Tsavo, he gave me another. An incredible gift. A glimpse of the world through God’s eye. And I thought: ‘Yes, I see. This is the way it was intended.’ I’ve written about all the others, not because I loved them less, but because they were clearer, easier. He was waiting for me there. But I’ve gone ahead of my story. He’d have hated that. Denys loved to hear a story told well.”

Karen Blixen, 1903 and Meryl Streep in 'Out of Africa' = Out of Africa flying
Karen Blixen, 1903 and Meryl Streep in ‘Out of Africa’

Perhaps one of the most widely known movie quotes of all times:

“I had a farm in Africa at the foot of the Ngong Hills. The Equator runs across these highlands, a hundred miles to the north, and the farm lay at an altitude of over six thousand feet. In the day-time you felt that you had got high up; near to the sun, but the early mornings and evenings were limpid and restful, and the nights were cold.”

A concept I try, how I try every day, to live by:

“Difficult times have helped me to understand better than before how infinitely rich and beautiful life is in every way, and that so many things that one goes worrying about are of no importance whatsoever.”

I may not dream that much, but I acquire the same joy through writing:
“People who dream when they sleep at night know of a special kind of happiness which the world of the day holds not, a placid ecstasy, and ease of heart, that are like honey on the tongue. They also know that the real glory of dreams lies in their atmosphere of unlimited freedom.”
Denys Finch Hatton, 1915, and Robert Redford in 'Out of Africa'
Denys Finch Hatton, 1915, and Robert Redford in ‘Out of Africa’ –

Is this quote below unveiling an optimistic side of Karen Blixen, or a life-long, concealed, low self-esteem?

“Now take back the soul of Denys George Finch Hatton, whom you have shared with us.
He brought us joy, and we loved him well.
He was not ours.
He was not mine.”
The movie ends with this heartbreaking quote by Karen Blixen:
“If I know a song of Africa, of the giraffe and the African new moon lying on her back, of the plows in the fields and the sweaty faces of the coffee pickers, does Africa know a song of me? Will the air over the plains quiver with a color that I have had on, or the children invent a game in which my name is, or the full moon throw a shadow over the gravel of the drive that was like me, or will the eagles of the Ngong Hills look out for me?”
I like to believe yes. Did you know that the Nairobi suburb that emerged on the land where Blixen farmed coffee is now named Karen?
~

“Out of Africa” quotes are property and copyright of their owners. “Flying over Africa” movie clip is provided for educational purposes and personal use only.

This meme was created by Drew @ The Tattooed Book Geek. You can pick a song that you really like and share it on Monday. I thoroughly enjoyed this blog feature on Mischenko’s lovely blog, ReadRantRockandroll .

Have you ever dreamed of flying out of your daily routine and over Africa?