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I was present the day it happened. But much more I will always remember his positive attitude. He was tough as a nail and he could handle anything. Thirty years later I still remember your name mate and you are not forgotten.
17 Sep 1980: 76454842BG Rifleman Adriaan Christoffel Ackerman from 7 SAI was accidentally shot dead by a fellow member at Nkongo Base. He was 20.
This is about the death of AT Ackerman. This is the exact details, it is needed to write the story and the facts around his death. He died inside Nkongo base, on the side of the base facing the go kart area. He died during 1980. His death will be remembered. This was an accident with no intent.
At one stage huge groups of enemy passed thought the Nkongo area. Groups of up to 200 men were estimated. We did not have the fire power needed to counter them. Our Bren was just not good enough.
So a new idea was used. A browning 7.62 was used that was normally mounted on a vehicle. At least this one had a belt and we could give them hell with this weapon. So one day this weapon was given to us and a homemade tripod was manufactured. Only LMG number 1 was trained. We were in a hurry to get back on patrol as there were a lot of movement in the area. This was the mistake that lead to the death of Ackerman. This weapon was heavy as hell and we all carried additional mortar bombs, belts and ammo as it was tough to get this one from one point to another.
On this specific day we were waiting in the tents for the vehicles to get back into the field. A person with the name Es******, who was the Brenner number two, wanted to learn how this weapon is working. Nothing wrong with that ??? he was number two and in case of number 1 getting injured it will expected from him to carry on firing with this weapon. This was our first outing with this weapon.
All of us were sitting in the one tent. The Browning was at the front of the tent facing inward. E**** then went to check this weapon. He removed the belt and he took out one cartridge from the belt. No one paid interest to him and we carried on chatting. He then inserted it into the chamber and he moved the mechanism forward. It got stuck towards the end and he forced the weapon forward.
Due to a lack of training he never realised that this weapon is fitted with a static fire pin. When he forced the weapon forward he was actual forcing the fire pin onto the cartridge.
When he forced it a shot went off and the bullet entered the tent. We all knew that someone was hit. This was not a ricocheting sound but a thump sound. The first thing that I noticed was the blood smears on the back of the tent. My second glance was on the troops and at first it appeared as if we were lucky.
We were not that lucky. Ackerman jumped up and he screamed
My God E**** wat dink jy doen jy He fell forward and only then I saw the
blood stain and hole on the right and the back of his shirt. He was sitting sideways with his left facing the LMG when he
was hit. The bullet entered his heart and it exited thought he right shoulder.
He had no chance.
Everyone tried to stop the blood and the doctor came running towards us. He told us to leave him as he is no longer with us. Some guys tried to carry on as he was our mate and they want to do more. It was too late. He died instantly. There were very little pain and suffering.
We then checked the rest of the guys that had blood splatters on them but they were fine. God selected only Ackerman.
That same day we went out for the patrol but silence was among the men. Ackerman was a good soldier and he had contact before and he proved to be a soldier that can act in the worst conditions ever. We will not forget him and his death will stay in our minds.
Gert jou vehaal van die tragiese dag kan nie beter beskryf word nie. Ek was daar peleton 5 mortierus . Rip Akkers na al die jare nog steeds in ons gedagtes.
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