Title: OPS Medic. A National Serviceman’s Border War
Author: Steven Webb
Cape Town, South Africa 2008
ISBN 9781919854298 / SBN 978-1-91985-429-8
Softcover, 17x24 cm, 296 pages, numerous photos, English
In 1984 Steven Webb volunteered for the South African Medical Service. Following basic training he was posted to SAMS Combat Medical Operation Company (Ops Company) for six months of advanced specialist training. In the lecture room and later in civilian hospitals he learned the arts of stabilising patients, stopping bleeding, maintaining airways, suturing wounds, administering drips and performing minor lifesaving medical procedures. 1985 he was sent to Namibia, where he serviced in Angola until the SADF withdrew its troops a month later. From there he was posted to 53-Battalion’s company base at Etale. It was garrisoned by Owambo troops of the SWATF’s 101-Battalion and white National Servicemen.
Steven Webb writes about border patrols conducted on foot and in Buffel mine protected fighting vehicles, seeking out SWAPO’s armed guerrillas and the constant anticipation of ambush. He tells of the stabilisation and casevac of casualties by helicopter. This is not the story of elite and glamorous fighting units like the Reconnaissance Commandos, Koevoet, 32-Battalion, or the Parachute Battalions.It is about young, white, conscripted National Serviceman, often straight from school, who were thrown headfirst into a guerrilla war in a country outside of South Africa and far from home.