When I was 19-20, in the late 90s. Yes, I know. I’m old. I found myself as part of a “police action”. Well, thats what the army claimed we were in anyway, overseas in Bosnia. In a nut shell. We were there to prevent the guys with guns from completely wiping out those who didn’t have guns. But the fact of the matter is I spent more time getting people with money, power and influence to safety, than I did protecting those who couldn’t protect themselves. I digress. That’s a whole other story.
For those of you who don’t know. Bosnia is a very beautiful country. Absolutely breath taking views because almost the entire country is mountainous nestled in, I believe, the Dinaric Alps and western part of the Balkans. I’m telling you, there were a few times that the sheer majesty of the mountains captivated this simple Texas country boy. Seeing something as grand as that will truly show you how small and insignificant you are. Even with your hands wrapped around an M-16 or SAW (squad automatic weapon).
However, all that beauty does have a price, in the form of the weather. It was cold and it was wet. As you read this sitting in your warm house or car. I’d like you to keep in mind that even though the U.S. Army called it a police action. We were in the middle of a modern day civil war. Which had left a lot of the country, to steal a line from the news anchors. War torn. Where there is war, there are going to be “refugees”. Displaced people with no home and no job. Even worse still you will find children. And children really tug at my heart strings.
Imagine that it’s almost freezing outside. You are 6 years old. The clothes you have are dirty and tattered. Your socks have holes, if you have them at all and your shoes are even hard to recognize as such. On top of all that you live in a shanty on the side of a mountain, with dirt floors and no real heat source. If that wasn’t bad enough it’s raining and those dirt floors resemble more a mud pit than an actual floor. Adding even more pain to your everyday life. There is little to no food. That’s right. You are literally starving most of the time.
And that’s where I drew the line. I gave away most if not all of my allotted MRE to any kid that I saw or that asked me. Don’t get me wrong. I wasn’t alone in this. There were several of my fellow comrades in arms that felt the same way I did. Before I knew what happened I was sick. I was sick because I hadn’t eaten a full meal or more than a bite or two in almost 11 days. Cold, wet and, no food will certainly take its toll.
To this day I can still close my eyes and see those spectacular views from high in the mountains. And to this day! Those views fail in comparison to the smile that would come across the face of one of those kids, when they got something to eat. Make no mistake. They weren’t getting steak and lobster. Ask any man or woman who has severed and they will tell you that the crackers in the MREs are nasty. But to someone who didn’t exactly know when or where the next meal was going to come from. It made their day and those special moments are the memories that make me the proudest to have served and I get to cherish the smiles I can still see.
Don’t say “I’m starving” the next time you are hungry.
Rangers lead the way! _
+ This is one of the best and most pure post I’ve ever had the chance and pleasure to read. Thank you so much for serving and for doing what you did. For sharing this story with us. You, sir, get my utmost respect and best wishes! Thank you so much. And no, you are not the least bit old!
Can you believe that the sinkhole you see in this picture is a 522m deep? The cliffs have a height of 241m and the intensely blue lake is about 280m deep. In 1942 one of the cliff walls collapsed after an earthquake. No place to have a swim! (The water is also very cold at 10 °C)
Crveno Jezero (Croatian for Red Lake due to its red cliffs) is the third deepest sinkhole on the planet. You actually cannot even see the immenseness of this sinkhole in a photo. Standing at the edge will make you feel incredibly small and a bit dizzy.
What is even scarier is that at the bottom of the sinkhole the cave extends down even further. Speleologists have not yet been able to determine how deep it goes down due to a very powerful undercurrent in the lake at about 170m depth, which leads scientists to believe that the sinkhole is connected to other watersystems. The presence of a rare species of fish in the sinkhole further fuels this hypothesis. The species: delminichthys adspersus, can occasionally be seen in surrounding rivers and springs in dry seasons suggesting that the sinkhole is connected to the spring and rivers. Delminichthys adspersus are only found in the Dinaric Alps.
The Dinaric Alps are known for its many its karstic formations, the upper Creteceous limestone has formed over 20 large holes that were formed by underground rivers. Due to its near vertical walls, Red Lake is believed to be the youngest of this group. Nearby Modro Jerezo (Blue Lake) is a little bit less deep at 220 m. The earthquake of 1942 caused a landfall and reduced the depth of the lake considerably.
One last scary fact, can you believe that people actually basejump into this gaping hole? Watch a video here (in Croatian):https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cZIm0BVZ0qI
Image: Copyright Barbara Oosterwijk. Crveno Jerezo as seen from above.
References: See here for a cross-section of the sinkhole:http://www.wondermondo.com/ …/Croatia/Split…/CrvenoJezero.htm
Sometimes known as the blind cave beetle, Leptodirus hochenwartii is a species of troglobitic round fungus beetle (Leiodidae) that is endemic to caves in the western Dinaric Alps. Like other troglobites L. hochenwartii is highly adapted for life underground, as it has elongated legs and antennae, reduced eyes, and an absence of pigment. Due to its isolated environment much of the ecology of L. hochenwartii is unknown, however several individuals have been seen feeding on carcasses.