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Congo Crisis: Operation Dragon Rouge

6/12/2006 • John F Kennedy, Military History

At exactly 0600 hours on the morning of November 24, 1964, as the sun was breaking over the former Belgian colony of Congo, five four-engine turboprop Lockheed C-130 Hercules transports appeared only 700 feet above the Sabena airport on the outskirts of the city of Stanleyville. As the first Hercules, with ‘U.S. Air Force’ stenciled in large block letters along the fuselage, approached a narrow swath of grass alongside the airport’s main runway, navigator First Lieutenant John Coble called out ‘Green Light’ over the aircraft’s intercom. Immediately, the co-pilot, Captain Robert Kitchen, reached down to the panel by his right armrest and flipped the paratrooper jump lights from red to green. As the lights in the cargo compartment changed from the red ‘Prepare to jump’ signal to green for ‘Go,’ Colonel Charles Laurent, commander of Belgium’s crack Régiment Para-Commando, leaped out into the cool, moist dawn air, followed by 64 other troopers into the African skies. Dragon Rouge, the most ambitious peacetime military operation ever performed by the government of the United States up to that time, was on.

Events of Thanksgiving week of 1964 in Africa were the direct results of years of political unrest in the Congo, which began within days of Belgium’s declaration of Congolese independence in 1960. An outbreak of fighting in the newly independent country led to United Nations intervention as USAF transports under the control of the 322nd Air Division, U.S. Air Force Europe (USAFE), airlifted a peacekeeping team made up of military personnel from several nations to Leopoldville. For three years, the UN peacekeeping force remained in the Congo, supported by American C-130 and Fairchild C-124 cargo planes.

Within weeks of the withdrawal of the UN force in the summer of 1964, fighting again broke out in the Congo. Christophe Gbenye, a Marxist who declared himself ‘President of the Congo,’ led a rebellion of fierce tribesmen calling themselves Simbas-‘lions’ in Swahili. The rebels soon captured large sections of the northern half of the country, leading foreign governments, including those of the United States and Belgium, to urge their citizens to flee the threatened areas.

To combat the rebellion, Congolese President Moise Tshombe recruited a fiery South African soldier, Major Michael Hoare, and gave him authority to raise a mercenary army of white Africans to assist the black Congolese army. Hoare would become a legend in the world of the professional soldier; during World War II he had fought in Burma with Brig. Gen. Orde Wingate, then became a professional soldier after that conflict. With his reputation already made from leading an earlier band during the Katangan secessionist revolt-in which Tshombe had been a participant-Hoare had no trouble training a 300-man unit of mostly South African ‘mercs’ that he dubbed 5 Commando. Hoare, often called ‘Mad Mike’ by those who knew him, enforced only two rules among his men-that they shaved and refrained from drinking before battle. Aside from that, he ‘cared not a whit’ what they did.

Tshombe also turned to the United States for assistance. Lessons from World War II, Korea and the French Indochina War indicated that air support and air transportation were crucial for combating a large rebel force. President Lyndon Johnson responded to Tshombe’s request for aid by sending Joint Task Force (JTF) Leo, a United States Strike Command task force consisting primarily of three Tactical Air Command C-130s and support personnel, to Leopoldville. The transports were from the 464th Troop Carrier Wing, based at tiny Pope Air Force Base (AFB), adjacent to Fort Bragg, N.C. A platoon of paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division provided protection for the C-130s while they were on the ground at remote African airstrips. A fourth C-130 was part of Leo, a ‘Talking Bird’ communications package that allowed long-range radio communications between the task force and Strike Command headquarters at McDill AFB. Fla., as well as the Pentagon, the State Department and the White House.

Another aspect of U.S. aid was a mercenary air force made up of North American T-28 Trojans and Douglas B-26 Intruders flown by Cuban expatriate pilots in the employ of a civilian corporation under contract to the Central Intelligence Agency. The Congolese air force consisted primarily of World War II-vintage North American T-6 trainers, which like the Cuban-flown T-28s, had been converted into attack planes.

In August, the Simbas captured the city of Stanleyville with its large concentration of Europeans and Americans. For a time the whites were treated relatively well. But later, with additional American-supplied firepower and airlift support, the Congolese army made steady gains against the rebel forces. As the Simbas saw the tide begin to turn against them, their radio station in Stanleyville began denouncing the United States, accusing it of sending combat troops to aid the government forces. Rebel hostility caused fear for the safety of whites in rebel-held territory, especially after news of atrocities performed by the revels against their own people reached the outside world.

While the whites were under a semblance of protection by the rebels, Stanleyville’s black residents were not, and a reign of terror began as the Simbas systematically tortured and killed prominent Congolese. Then, evidently realizing that the whites in their territory could serve as bargaining chips, the rebels began taking hostages. On September 5, U.S. Consul Michael Hoyt was taken into custody, along with other members of the consulate staff, and thrown into the city’s Central Prison. Other whites were seized. Some were thrown into the prison with the Americans, while others were held in the Victoria Hotel. Over the next two months, the Simbas arrested foreigners from as many as 20 countries, placing them under custody in hotels, prisons and military bases. The rebels began making threats that the hostages would be killed if the United States did not withdraw its support for the Congolese government.

In late October the rebels accused an American medical missionary, Dr. Paul Carlson, of being a U.S. Army major on assignment for the CIA. Carlson, with the Protestant Relief Agency, was a medical doctor who first went to the Congo on a special six-month mission, then returned in 1963 with his family. Less than a year later, after having sent his wife and four children to safety in the Central African Republic, Carlson was seized by the Simbas because (1) he owned a radio, (2) he was an American and (3) the rebels wanted hostages. Over the next few weeks, Dr. Paul Carlson’s name would be featured in the world’s headlines.

With the fate of the white hostages in doubt, the United States and Belgium tried to negotiate with the rebels. At the same time, they began planning various means of military intervention, even as the Congolese government forces launched a major offensive toward Stanleyville. Several possible schemes were put forth, including a large paratrooper assault by members of the 82nd Airborne Division, supported by heavy tactical air strikes. While military forces in the united States worked on the larger plan, the U.S. military command in Europe came up with a less involved one, calling for the use of a small force of paratroopers begin airlifted to Africa for the rescue. That plan, formulated jointly by the United States and Belgium, was given the French code name Dragon Rouge (‘red dragon’).

On November 15, Brig. Gen. Robert D. Forman, commander of the 322nd Air Division, was given word to begin preparations to airlift a force of Belgium paratroopers to the Congo for a possible rescue attempt. Forman’s command had supported the UN peacekeeping forces in the Congo from 1960 until early 1964. During those years, however, the 322nd had undergone some changes. Previously, the division had been directly under the commander of USAFE, but a reorganization of American forces in Europe led to the transfer of the division’s transfer to Military Air Transport Service a few months earlier.

Permanently assigned C-130s had been replaced by temporary duty aircraft and crews from Tactical Air Command units in the United States. In 1964, two TAC wings were supporting rotational squadrons at Evreux Fauville Airbase, France, the 317th and 464th Troop Carrier wings from Lockbourne AFB, Ohio, and Pope AFB, N.C. Rotational Squadron A, or ‘Rote Alpha,’ was made up of Pope personnel who flew the newest version of the already proven Hercules, the C-130E, while Rote Bravo was manned by Lockbourne crews and equipped with the older C-130A.

General Forman called Colonel Burgess Gradwell to Chteauroux to brief him on the upcoming mission. Gradwell, commander of Detachment One, 332nd Air Division at Evreux, would have command. Dragon Rouge, as the Americans would come to know the mission, would involve a 14-plane airlift of 600 Belgian paratroopers to Africa. Since the E-model of the Hercules featured special long-range fuel tanks, Rote Alpha would provide the planes and crews. When Gradwell got back to Evreux that night, he called in Rote Alpha commander Lt. Col. Robert A. Lindsay and the TAC liaison officer with the division, Colonel Gene Adams. Wheels were set in motion for the mission.

Before Dragon Rouge could be launched, the aircraft and crews had to be recalled from their normal missions throughout Europe. By the evening of November 16, all 15 Hercules were back at Evreux and the crews were on ‘crew rest’ for an ‘important’ mission. At 1740 Greenwich Mean Time-‘Zulu time-on November 17, the first C-130 took off from Evreux, bound for Klinebrogel, Belgium. Aboard the first plane were Colonel Gradwell, Captain Donald R. Strobaugh, commander of the 5th Aerial Port Squadron (APRON) combat control team, and sergeant Robert J. Dias, a radio repairman with the 5th APRON. Like the C-130 crews, Strobaugh had been called back to Evreux from duties elsewhere in Europe. Other than certain key officers, no one aboard the airplanes knew where they were going until after they were airborne with no problems requiring them to turn back. Each navigator had been given a sealed envelope, with instructions not to open it until the airplane’s altitude exceeded 2,000 feet.

At Klinebrogel, elements of the Belgian 1st Para-Commando Regiment, including the 1st Para-Commando Battalion, a company from the 2nd Battalion and a detachment from the 3rd, were loaded aboard the C-130s, along with their equipment. At 2240Z, the first Hercules departed Klinebrogel for a fuel stop at Morn Air Base on the southern coast of Spain, then on to Ascension Island in the South Atlantic. The first airplane arrived at Ascension at 1310Z on November 18.At Ascension, Captain Strobaugh instructed the Belgians on the use of the PRC-41 and PRC-47 radio sets he had brought for Evreux for communication between the men on the ground and the planes overhead. He also instructed 21 Belgian jumpmasters on C-130 jump techniques-few of the Belgian paras had ever jumped from the Hercules-then supervised as they trained the remainder of the force.

For the next three days, the joint rescue force waited while communications were passed back and force between there and Washington by a TAC C-130 ‘Talking Bird’ that joined the mission at Ascension. On November 20, a special briefing of the various commanders was held to determine exactly how the assault was to be performed. Once it was firmed, Captain Strobaugh transmitted the plan to Washington. At 1800Z, the force was put on alert; 30 minutes later, the launch order came over the teletype. Ad hour later, at 1935Z, Chalk One (tactical airlift missions are designated by ‘chalk’ numbers, after the practice of numbering loads with chalk) departed Ascension bound for Kamina, an airfield in the southern Congo, with the other 13 C-130s right behind.

At daybreak, the first Hercules arrived at Kamina after a nine-hour flight across part of the Atlantic and halfway across Africa. The field was obscured by fog, but English-speaking air traffic controllers directed each plane to the airport in turn. Once the force was on the ground more briefings were held, including an update on the mission’s status by Colonel Clayton Issacson, commander of JTF Leo and now in overall command of Dragon Rouge and other activities in the Congo. Then the Dragon Rouge force went into another waiting period while Belgium and the United States continued their efforts to win the hostages’ freedom through negotiations.

On Monday evening, November 23, the rescue force relaxed at Kamina while watching what one critic in the crowd described as a ‘terrible movie’ in one of the hangars. At 2230Z (2030 local time), the teletype machines in the ‘Talking Bird’ began clattering as messages came in from Washington and Brussels. Dragon Rouge was on, with takeoff scheduled for 0045Z, so as to arrive over the Stanleyville airport at dawn. The first C-130, flown by Captain Huey Long’s Standardizations/Evacuation crew from the 777th Troop Carrier Squadron, lifted off form Kamina’s long runway right on time, followed at 20-second intervals by the other 11 planes of the assault force. The sixth airplane in the formation, piloted by Captain William ‘Mack’ Secord, lost a 20-man life raft from a wing storage compartment after takeoff. Secord left the formation and went back to Kamina for a spare airplane. The rest of the Dragon Rouge formation proceeded northbound at high altitude, following the Congo River, descending to treetop altitudes as the planes neared revel territory.

Nearing Stanleyville, lead navigator John Coble led the formation south of the city, still at low altitude, so as to approach from the west. As the formation reached the one-minute warning point, two B-26s made a low pass over the airport. Laurent and 299 of his men jumped over Stanleyville airport exactly at dawn.

The jump plane crews were briefed to expect only small-arms fire over the airport. Instead, they were greeted by tracers from Chinese-made 12.7mm antiaircraft machine guns. In spite of the unexpected fire, the American pilots held their course as they dropped their troopers right on the narrow drop zone beside the runway, then came back around for another pass to allow the 20 jumpmasters to exit, along with the bundles of extra equipment. Only the first five airplanes in the formation dropped at that time: Dragons Six and Seven were rigged to either drop or land with equipment (Secord’s Dragon Six had gone back to Kamina and was still en route), while Dragons Eight, Nine and Eleven orbited nearly, their troops at the ready to jump in if needed, or land when the field was secure.

Once on the ground, the Para-Commandos began rushing to secure the field so rescue force aircraft could land. Within 30 minutes the Belgians managed to eliminate all resistance at the airport and within 10 minutes had cleared away about 300 water-filled 55-gallon drums and 11 wheel-less vehicles that had been placed on the runway as obstacles. To Captain Strobaugh, who was serving aboard Dragon Nine as jumpmaster, the Belgians’ efforts were ‘nothing short of miraculous.’ At 0450Z, the first C-130 landed at Stanleyville and discharged a load of equipment and troops, then took off again to fly to Leopoldville-where the drop planes had already gone-for refueling and to await word to return to Stanleyville and evacuate refugees. Dragon One remained overhead, serving as a command ship for Colonel Gradwell. Colonel Issacson also made an appearance over Stanleyville in one of the JTF Leo aircraft, using the call sign ‘Dragon Chief.’

After Dragon Seven landed and took off again, Dragons Eight, Nine, Eleven and Ten followed in that order. Each crew offloaded their troopers and then took off again for Leopoldville; no more than three airplanes were to be on the ground at one time. The last two planes, Six and Twelve, flown respectively by Secord and Captain B.J. Nunnally, were told to remain on the ground to bring out the first hostages when they were brought out of town. Dragon One continued orbiting over the airport at 2,000 feet. Navigator Coble was uncomfortable about being so low over a combat zone; he had served four temporary duty tours in South Vietnam flying C-123s. The rest of the crew laughed, calling him ‘combat happy’-until they suddenly felt and heard the sound of bullets striking the airplane. Seven rounds hit the Hercules, knocking out hydraulics and leaving two large holes in the wing fuel tanks. With Gradwell’s approval, Long headed his C-130 for Leopold for repairs.

Once the airport was secure, the Belgian rescue force headed for downtown Stanleyville, where the hostages were known to be held. The hostages themselves were awakened by the wounds of the battle at the airport and the alarmed Simbas who came after them shouting: ‘Your brothers have come from the sky! Now you will be killed!’ Dressed in manes of monkey fur and feathers, the Simbas bashed down the doors of the Victoria Hotel with spears and gun butts, and then roughly hustled their white hostages out into the streets. For more than an hour, the hostages had been hearing sounds of airplanes engines and gunfire while others not in captivity saw parachutes falling form the sky over the airport. Knowing that the Simbas had threatened to kill everyone under their control in the event of a rescue attempt, they were fearful.

Now the Simbas ordered the 250 whites from the Victoria out into the broad streets of the city and began marching them toward the city park and toward the Patrice Lumumba ‘monument’-a large photograph of the late prime minister-where the rebels had already slain more than 100 Congolese during recent weeks. The hostages still entertained some hope; they were being marched in the direction of the airport, leading some to believe that the rebel commander intended to turn them over to the rescue force unharmed. Then, rebel-operated Radio Stanleyville shrilled out a message: ‘Ciyuga! Ciyuga! Kill! Kill! Kill them all! Have no scruples! Men, women, children-kill them all!’

Colonel Joseph Opepe, who had befriended some of the hostages, tried in vain to stop the Simbas from carrying out the orders screamed over the radios. Many of the Simbas were drunk from a mixture of alcohol and hemp. According to some survivors, the signal to fire came from a deaf-mute ex-boxer known as ‘Major Bubu,’ who served as a personal bodyguard to rebel defense minister Gaston Soumialot. Whoever gave the word, the rebels suddenly started firing into the assembled hostages with rifles and automatic weapons. The firing was not random-the rebels deliberately chose women and children as their first targets. One of those who fell was Dr. Paul Carlson, shot as he tried to run to safety.

After an initial volley, the rebels temporarily ceased firing. Marcel Debuisson, a Belgian engineer, heard them say, ‘Now we’ll turn them over and finish off the ones left alive.’ Debuisson prayed for a miracle and his prayers were answered. ‘To my amazement,’ he told news reporters afterward, ‘It happened. Round the corner of the square walked a single Belgian paratrooper, submachine gun on his hip.’ The rebels saw the Belgian red beret as well; immediately they turned and fled.What the Belgians found in Sergeant Kitele Avenue was not a pretty sight. About 30 whites had been killed, while dozens of others were wounded. Two Americans were among the slain: Dr. Carlson and Phyliss Rine, a missionary from Ohio. The sight of the bloodshed left the Belgians angered, as would be the white mercenaries who came into the city a few hours later, spearheading a ground assault from the east. For the remainder of the afternoon, it was open season on Simbas in Stanleyville as the rebels paid in blood for their folly.

Back at the airport, the situation was still far from calm. More than 300 rebels occupied positions near the runway. As many hostages were freed, they were returned to the airport for evacuation. The first group arrived at the airport around 0945 and was loaded aboard the two waiting C-130s. The most badly wounded were loaded on Dragon Twelve, the hospital plane. Many of the hostages were wounded, while all were terrified and in a state of shock. Captain Mack Secord took off first with what he reckoned as ‘around a hundred’ hostages aboard. As he taxied for takeoff, the plane passed by a clump of elephant grass. Three Simbas leaped from the grass and ran alongside the plane, trying to force their way inside, although nobody aboard it was aware of it at the time. One of the rebels fired a burst from his submachine gun straight up into the wing. Secord took off with fuel streaming from the wing and headed for Leopoldville, where he landed with no flaps, no prop-reverse and on only three engines.

Although the Belgians spoke English, they were not used to speaking with rapid-talking Americans, many of whom were Southerners with distinct accents. To eliminate possible confusion, Colonel Laurent asked Captain Strobaugh and Sergeant Dias to take charge of communications with the American aircrewmen and radio operators.

With the airport secure and the freed hostages beginning to make their way there, Strobaugh requested an airlift to take them out, along with air support for the strike forces. In addition to the American C-130s, Belgian Douglas DC-6s joined the airlift. Several airplanes landed with bullet holes received while on landing approach. Periodically throughout the day, Strobaugh had to direct aircraft to orbit nearby while the Belgians repulsed attacks on the airport. As the last C-130 of the day landed at 1545Z, impacting mortar rounds signaled the start of a 150-man rebel assault on the west end of the airport. The Belgians repulsed five separate attacks as the airplane landed on the east end of the runway. Thirty minutes later, a Belgian DC-6 came in with a damaged engine that forced it to remain on the ground overnight.

Rebel opposition continued in the vicinity of the Stanleyville airport on November 25 as snipers took potshots at Belgian and Congolese national troops. Early that morning, sniper fire killed one of the Belgian officers from the stranded DC-6. Less than an hour later, a sniper’s bullets hit the control tower. On the 26th, the evacuation of whites and some Congolese from the city resumed. Over the two-day period 41 sorties by the American C-130s and Belgian DC-6s brought out more than 1,800 American and European whites, as well as some 300 Congolese.

Late in the evening, seven C-130s flew into Stanleyville to pick up troops for another rescue mission to the town of Paulis, 225 miles to the northwest. Early on the morning of Thanksgiving Day, the seven-plane flight took off on Operation Dragon Noir, a repeat of Tuesday’s mission. Arriving over Paulis at daybreak, the crews found their objective enshrouded in fog. The Belgians jumped anyway, making their descent into mist that obscured the ground. Every trooper landed on the designated drop zone. As soon as the fog lifted, the C-130s began landing on the dirt runway, their propellers stirring up a thick red cloud of dist as the pilots brought them into reverse after touchdown. The scene was one that would be repeated by many of those some crews in the same planes in Vietnam, where American involvement was starting to escalate. One pilot, Major Joe Hildebrand, reversed his prop while the plane was still airborne; the resulting hard landing flamed out all four engines of his ‘Herky-bird.’

At Paulis, the paratroopers found the condition of the hostages to be as bad as-or worse than-at Stanleyville. An American missionary had been systematically tortured and beaten until death mercifully brought relief. Meanwhile, back at Stanleyville, the Belgians and mercenaries who made their way into the city shortly after the parachute assault found more white victims. A missionary family from New Zealand was brought to the airport. The father had been slain, the mother cut with machetes, while the two young daughters had scalp wounds inflicted by the Simbas. Only the two sons were spared injury.

Such senseless carnage caused the mercenaries and even the well-disciplined Belgian paratroopers to lose their restraint. Most rebels they encountered were slain on the spot. Congolese government soldiers frequently exhibited the same lack of concern for human life as their brothers on the other side, in one case kicking to death a Simba ‘priest’ captured near the airport.

On the evening of the 27th, the last Belgian troopers were withdrawn from Stanleyville and flown to Kamina to begin the first leg of their journey home. Their departure was somewhat premature, largely due to a huge outcry of discontent in the Third World over Belgian and American intervention in Africa, as demonstrators made their feelings known. Sometimes the demonstrations got out of hand, as in Cairo, Egypt, where the new John F. Kennedy library was burned to the ground in protest over the white presence in Africa. A well-organized propaganda effort in Communist and Third World nations placed the blame for the atrocities in Stanleyville on American and Belgian shoulders. Some nations, including China, pledged aid to the Congo rebels.

But even though the fighting in the Congo would continue for several months, with many white still to be slain by the rebels, Operation Dragon Rouge was over. On the morning of November 29, the rescue force departed Africa for Ascension. From there, it flew to the Canary Islands, then on to Melsbroek Airfield, outside of Brussels. There the rescuers were welcomed home by several hundred high-ranking officers, news reporters, television camera crews and relatives. King Baudouin received the Belgian paratroopers and American aircrews at a review on the flight line, and presented Colonels Laurent and Gradwell with the Order of Leopold II. After the ceremony, the Americans were taken on a tour of the city. Later, the American crewmen would all be awarded Air Medals for their role in the mission, while the 1964 McKay Trophy, an annual award for the most meritorious flight of the year by U.S. Air Force planes, would be awarded to the Dragon Rouge force.

For the American and Belgian military personnel involved in Dragon Rouge, the operation was one that all would remember with pride. Even thought the rescue was not without cost to the Belgians, the mission had been an overall success, resulting in the release of hundreds of hostages who doubtless would have been killed had it not occurred.

Kentucky-based contributor Sam McGowan flew C-130s as a loadmaster with the USAF in Vietnam. For further reading, try Save the Hostages! by David Deed; and McGowan’s own book, The C-130 Hercules Tactical Aircraft Missions, 1956-1975.

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215 Responses to Congo Crisis: Operation Dragon Rouge

  1. William R Young says:

    My father was a military motion picture photographer assigned to accompany the bperation to rescue the hostages. The results of his work were put into an Air Force newsreel titled “Airlift From America”. I checked out and viewed this film in the late 60’s when i was in the service. I have been trying to find it again. My fater is 83 years old now and has never seen the film himself. But the stories he told were hair-raising.
    If you know or can find out how to get a copy of this newsreel piece, please let me know. i would love to get a copy to show him before he passes.
    thank you

    Bill Young

    • Brian says:

      Bill, post your email so I can send you the information.

      • Viciwanja says:

        Hi Brian,,

        I am member of a group of these who survived Stanleyville 1964 …I was there too as a member of the Ommegang and low beam operation.
        May I request you kindly to give me some particulars about the movie of William R Young’s father, is it possible to have a look at it on a site , or to purchase it ?

    • debra says:

      Did you find “Airlift From America,” made by the US Air Force in the 60s? I have a copy of a USAF Motion Picture station production (Los Angeles, CA) film by that title…I have no way of viewing it and don’t know whether it deals with your topic, though.

  2. eddy j. van beeck says:

    Sir: as a Belgian -American who grew up as a teenager in the congo it is with great pride I read about this Operation, my father was the chief engineer of the belgian airline in nyc and in the congo. The lesson learned here is that indepedence for the Congo should have been a 30 year process, as a matter of fact I had the opportunity to talk with the last Colonial governor of the belgian congo on a flight to leopoldville back in 1969 and he agreed with me.Excellent article.

  3. Drew Uhler says:

    I was one of the 48 paratroopers with the 82nd Airborne (1-504PIR) that was assigned to this operation in August of 1962. What an experience I won’t forget.

  4. T.E. HEBERT says:

    The Americans in the C-130 AC took along more than just
    equipment and paratroopers! There were at least two USAF Air
    Police Aircraft protection personnel to provide close in protection
    on the ground in Stanleyville Airport. The scene at the airport
    was gruesome at best. As the hostages were returned many of the
    first ones were wounded and not just with firearms. The weapon of
    choice for many of the SIMBAS was the machete. The orders were
    to eliminate any SIMBA seen approaching the Aircraft. None did!
    It was quite an experience and one that began the annealing
    process for a 30 year career as an AF Security Professional.
    I was one of those invisible aircraft protection speciaslists.

    • SGT Tom Young says:

      Mr. Hebert I was one of the ground service personel at Leopoldville. I was told to servich my plane with 40 thousand lbs of JP4. I did not like the smell of the fuel we were using; so I opened all the valves an made a slow down count from ten. When my plane returned, #4 engine shut down due to fuel starvation. I was told this by one of your professional specialists. Will you confirm this. The only people on the Plane were 1 black woman,two specialists and the crew.

  5. juan ubaghs says:

    I am 66 yeras old and was a corporal in the Belgian Para commandos and took part in the operation . If somebody has some fotos or film please e.mail them to

  6. Kanti Patel says:

    I like to Thank Belgian, Americans and British plus their Armed Forces for Rescue of my Family and me from Stanleyville in Operation Dragon Rouge in 1964.

    I was 8yrs old then and at present I live in London UK. I believe our Family was feautered in ‘Pathe BBC News Reel’ on the resue from Stanley Ville to Leopodville then. If any one knows how I can get a print of the News Reel ! Your help will be greatly appreciated.

    You can e-mail me on:

    I have my Passport and Refugee Card as reminder of my being part of Congolese Upheavel.

    Kanti Patel
    Frmr Cllr & Deputy Leader of LBB London

    • Viciwanja Rosez says:

      Sure that I met you there at that time…I was 19 and …it was a hell overthere I am glad that you were still alive when we came trough the sky as flying dragons…my heart is still bleeding about what happened there..

      • Kanti Patel says:


        Pleasure reading your comments, I am glad you survived too and are keeping well.

        God Bless

    • Beth Davis Taylor says:

      I would also all that were involved in rescuing our family during this upheaval. It has been so interesting finding information on the internet about all of this. I was one and a half at this time and my pictures was taken with a Belgian paratrooper and put on the cover of Paris Match magazine.

      • Viciwanja says:

        Hi Beth,

        I am glad that you survived in these dark of the sun days. I remember that a lot of pictures were taken of me … in Stanleyville aswell as in Leopoldville … the pic you are talking about could be me … coz I was designed to take care about the rescued children … but I dont think I have that pic …. can you send me a copy ??? email is

  7. mark fuller says:

    does any body reameber my dad jim fuller under mike hoare i think 1964 5 commando

  8. mark fuller says:

    can any body tell me they new my dad the storys he told me when he was in congo 1964 he fought for mike hoare sign for 5 commando in 1964 in johannesburg as he live there best friend was jonny bradbury who also went to the congo at the same time and also both came back together his name was jimmy e.mail address is just need more info.there must be someone who new him as he past away a few years ago. thanks mark fuller his son.

    • frederick says:

      Hi so was my Dad Frederick Alan Gibson its so strange that no one can tell us about them I remember one of my Dads good friends was Jonny Waldron.
      If you do find any information please email me at

      best regards

    • Hoyt Brown says:

      Think the Jonny Bradbury you speak of was the Jonny I knew. I wish I could contact him because we became good friends. I was a crew chief on one of the C-130’s which was part of JTF LEO. Jonny took me a ride in a VW Bus that he had captured from the Congolese Rebels. The bus had SHIBA written on the side with red paint. We went down into this town on a dirt road and he was running 50-60 mph hitting two feet deep ditches. I will never understand how that VW stayed together.

  9. Ryan E. says:

    My father John Ermlich was also a soldier under Mike Hoare’s 5 Commando. Anybody remember him?

  10. Wayne Seal says:

    I was in the Congo in 1964 thru March of 1965. I was with 2nd Infantry Division, US Army. The time that I was there was chaotic and cruel. If you want to learn more, go to Leavenworth Papers Number 14 and search. This is a great credible site, as it was researched thru the Combat Studies Institute. There is more to the story than this site reveals, but this is a good site for understanding.

  11. Patrick P Boude says:

    My mother,my 2 brothers and I took the very last plane a Dc 3 just the evening before Stanleyville was taken.My father Paul R Boude was the manager of Mobil Oil in Stanley,he was on a trip at Leopoldville.He managed to have Mobil Oil,the americans and some others to have a plane flown to take as many people as possible out of Stanley as he understood that it would be the last one to fly out .Upon his arrival ,he called my mother to have us being ready to leave.(in the last 3 previous days we had being squestrated in our concrete staircase in the middle of our apartment to avoid stray bullets).We got pick up and we were put in that plane with 3 others,the rest were congoleses.My father had told my mother that he was coming the next day.That did not happened until Operation Dragon Rouge came,thank to them. My father spent the next months there and had the Belgium consulate Patrick Nothomb under his wing as being a french citizen at the time was less dangerous than being a belgium or american,further more he was able to circulate in town and help with the food distribution.Now for what I understood my father help the belgium troops to reach simba armed positions as the military maps were not very accurate.For all that,my father was the recipient of one the highest belgium decoration the Order of Leopold 2.Thank for all those troops my father came back and many others as well and Iam greatfull for that.

    • Elizabeth Williams says:

      My husband henry williams was part of the rescue team that came in on a DC3. So I read with interest your story of leaving on the last plane – a DC3. Can you tell me anything about this – do you remember any of the people involved? He was with East Africian Airways at the time and I remember him saying they packed a DC3 with people during that time..

      Sadly my husband passed away a few months ago and I am trying to collect stories about him for our children and grandchildren.
      Kind Regards
      Elizabeth Williams

  12. Joe Haffner says:

    I’ve been trying to figure out my Dad’s role in Operation Dragon Rouge. I learned the day after he died that he was in the U.S. Army’s Special Forces in the early 1960s. A few months after he died, I determined that he was involved in Operation Dragon Rouge. I determined this based on the stories he told my Mom. Basically all I know is that my Dad, Michael Albert (Mike) Haffner was one of five Jeep drivers assigned to get people out of hostile territory. He rarely talked about his experiences in the Army to anyone, especially his Special Forces training. I’m curious if there is anyone that remembers him or knows more about this mission than what is already posted on the internet.

  13. Norman P.Page says:

    I was the maint. crew chief of the C-130 E
    This C-130 E was the first airdrop/Mission
    This Aircraft was the one that brougt out the doctor And His Slain companions .

    • delmar poore says:

      sgt. page was my crew chief i was his asst,first job from training in 1964 i went to congo that time a3c with him i don,t know sure it was like to have some contact pope afb 464 oms delmar poore a3c

      delmar poore 587 bear huff lp. pall mall tn. 38577 931 879 2956

  14. Norman P.Page says:

    The crew chief of first plane to drop the Belgiam Parratroopers

    • delmar poore says:

      sgt. page was my first crew chief i was his asst. in 1964 i went to the congo with his plane i don,t know i don,t rember what happen then i’ll look for old order i have delmar poore 587 bear huff lp.pall mall tn. 38577 i was in the congo at that time anyone contact me is ok thank you god bless sgt. page

    • Sam McGowan says:

      And just what were you doing, sitting on the bunk? There were two loadmasters on that airplane who were taking care of things in the back. By the way, I knew you when I was in the 464th OMS and later after I crosstrained to loadmaster and went to the 779th.

      • delmar poore says:

        sam i new you too and thank for all your work job well done and still doing i was in the congo but not sure what aircraft i was with sgt. page can’t recall nothing much but your work sure help keep the good work thank delmar

  15. Viciwanja Rosez says:

    Operation Red and Black Dragon in Stanleyville:
    I grow up in Katanga and after the secession I becaume a member of the 4thcomkat in 1960. In 1964 we had a joint operation…Belgian paratroopers and the Katangees Tigers(4thComKat) target Stanleyville and the liberation of 3,000 hostages. I knew most of the Belgian paratroopers and actualy they have a own site.

  16. james w colburn says:

    Was on covert operation with2nd Bat. 504 out of Fort Bragg, 82nd Airborne, was in Congo Aug-Nov. 1964. Anyone that might have been in that Batalion with me would like to hear from or anyone that was in Leopoldville or thereabouts, during that timeframe and served with operation Leo, please contact me.

    • Tom Young says:

      I may have saved your neck. I put extra fuel on my airplane for the first mission. I did not like the smell of the fuel; So I put extra fuel on board. When my airplane returned one of the engines shut down due to fuel starvation in the fuel pits. Reguards TJY

    • Tom Young says:

      I was a ground crew member of C-130 857. I was in the Congo during that time. Please reply. Regards TJY

      • Hoyt Brown says:

        We landed on one of those dirt strips. I threw up the troop doors and one of you guys almost shot a friendly who had his head poked out of the high grass on the side of the air strip.

    • Leona says:

      I believe my father may have been there. His name is John Zapata, he was part of 82nd Airborne and served in the Congo at that time on a covert operation. If that name sounds familiar to anyone, please let me know! He’s still alive and kicking at 74.

  17. Rob Jackson says:

    Joe Haffner,

    My father was also in operation dragon rouge with the sf. It is possible they were in the same team. If you want to contact me at

    I hope I can help.

  18. Ron Thurlow says:

    This was an outstanding article. I would like to contact two of the previous “posters” – T.E. Hebert and Norman P. Page – with some follow up questions. I would also like to hear from any other USAF C-130 crew member, ground crew, or USAF security personnel who may have been involved in this mission. Thanks. R. Thurlow,

  19. Charlotte Sas says:


    My grandfather Louis was murdered on the 24 th in Stanleyville. He was a hostage.
    Could someone email me some photos or footage of the rescue?

  20. Manny Carvalho says:

    Yes that was a long time ago,I was a member of 5 codo,joined in Joburg,flew to Kamina base did same training,flew on board a C130 (with NO markings….) landed in Bunnia,more training,and of we all whent ,in jeeps,trucks,one blitz truck(with the mortars) to start our operation,towards Paulis,on to Aru (not Arua,that is in Uganda) on to Faradje,(near the border with the Sudan etc etc.that took care of my 1st contract.R&R in Joburg resigned again,flew to Albeertville,camp on the outskirts of town,left by barge towd b y the old “Ermes” on to Cementation,for a few days then on to Barraka,and eventualy Fizi.Lost a few mates (KIA) I whent on to serve in the Rhodesian Special Forces.
    I am prepared to conrrespond with genuine ex figthers,not bullshiters,
    Cherrs Manny

    • Al Venter says:

      Bom dias Manuel, Al Venter here. I am working on the Congo operation for a book and would like to talk to you, however briefly. Can you please contacrt me at

    • Lynette Britz says:

      Hi Manny,

      Ive been trying to do research for my dad who was in 5 Commando at that time. He has wanted to correspond with anyone from that time..Johannes Albertus Britz aka Abie…would realy appreciate it if you could contact Lynette

    • frederick says:


      You just might be the man that can assist me did you know my father Frederick Alan Gibson may have been called Geordie or Flash. Recruited in Salisbury?

      best regards

    • Theresa says:

      Dear Manny, I know this is a long time since you posted your comment (in February 2010), but did you know of my father Alan Gibson (Gibby), who was British but lived in Rhodesia too? And was with 5th Codo also?

      I’m trying since years to get information on him. Thank you

  21. harry james says:

    i am proud to have served with 5 cdo under the comand of thegreat mike hoare and john peters would welcome new fromold members regards harry

    • frederick says:

      Do you remember Alan Gibson,

    • paul gordon says:

      hats off to harry

    • M.Peters says:

      Im John Peters Grandson and i would really appreciate knowing what he was like serving under his command, and if you have and photo’s of information about him that would be great.

      Thankyou M.Peters

      • Neill G Hunt says:

        I was a personal friend of John for many years working across the world in the Offshore Navigation Industry from 1969 to when he had a terminal cardiac arrest at Dallas airport on Jan 1986. You will find some information on John (JP) on website Coastal Surveys Ltd.I can Most probably get a copy of some photographs from his third wife Joan no.2 who lives in Perth Western Australia.There are many old 5 commando troopers still in contact. James Walter Lassiter who was also in Congo kicked the bucket in 92 he was the CIA joker and Mike Hoare is still alive, in his 90’s now.I will try and dig up some photo’s for you
        All the best

      • Jo Dennett says:

        Hi, I am John Peters great niece and would appreciate any info you have found regarding him.


        Jo Dennett.

      • Potticary says:

        Hi, John Peters was my fathers closest friend, and like a uncle to me, the last time we saw him was in 1965 when he came over to London, I was only young at the time but I am sure he had just got married, whilst here he received a telegram from J,Burg to return with immediate effect, we have not heard or seen him since in fact although we have tried everything even going to J,Burg it’s as if he never exsisted please contact me

    • James MacKenzie says:

      Please allow me to introduce myself as a collector and researcher of the Congo Mercenaries.

      I read your notice and wondered whether you have any of your father’s photos, documents, badges, uniform items, etc, that you would be prepared to scan or photograph for my records?

      Kind regards

      James D.N. MacKenzie
      SAM – Southern Africa Militaria

    • curly says:

      hi harry if youre still out there would love to hear from you

      • Jay Can says:

        Good evening Curly, I am Harry James’s grand daughter unfortunately he has passed away, it happened Saturday night at midnight. Even in his last few days he was still talking about his work in the 5th commando. Harry James passed away at the age of 85 years old. To anyone who wishes to attend his funeral it will be a celebration of life located in Okotoks, Alberta Canada Friday August 8th 2014 should anyone have any questions feel free to email me.

        Regards, Jay Can

  22. harry james says:

    harry james email adress jam 9082

  23. Clyde Cummings says:

    Thank you for posting this piece of history.I was cryptographer on Talking Bird working the encryption and decryption of messages from State Dept and our aircraft in Ascention and on the ground at Kamina and I can tell you both our equipment and our fingers were worn out by the time we handled all the Flash messages.. Alot of heros that morning with the air drop into Stanleyville and alot of memories that still keep us awake at night even after all these years..
    Clyde Cummings, USAF Retired

    • Tom Young says:

      Clyde: I found a bunch of crystals on the floor of my airplane about the time the radios went down as spoken of in the Leavenworth Papers #14.
      I returned the crystals to the Belgians. I was told latter that I had the future of the Congo in my hands. This happened at Leopoldville. Can you conferm this
      Tom Young.

      • Tom Young says:

        Reply to comment 23.1; I did not check the of follow up comments via e-mail.. Thank You

  24. terry peet says:

    can anyone tell me if John Peters 5th cdo is still alive I was a helicopter pilot in Albertville

    • Neill G Hunt says:

      Terry in reference to John Peters no he passed away Jan 1986 at Dallas Airport suffering a massive heart attack I was a personal friend of John for many years. at the time I was working with Jim Lassiter and John was working with Arthur Jones of Nautilus Industries . Johns ashes were scattered in the Gulf (John use to get seasick) by Joan.

      Regards Neill

      • Neil says:

        Hi Neil, I’m Johns great nephew his sister Gloria is my grandmother. If you have any information that your willing to share about family etc please make contact via my email

        Thanks in advance :)

  25. Richard T says:

    @terry peet

    I dated John Peter’s daughter many years ago (late 1990’s). He had been dead many year then – his daughter was still young when he died, and she was raised by Peters CIA handler in Ocala, Florida. She had lost contact with her biological mother, but was in contact with Peters 2nd wife, who lives in Perth, Australia (I believe his first wife is also in Australia). She subsequently got back in touch with her mother.

    I haven’t been in touch with her for many years, and am reluctant to give too many personal details about her. She was Peters only child. She is now married with a family.

    • terry peet says:

      my handler was Jim Lassiter and he lived in Florida .I also knew Peters first wife your girl Friends mother presumably .Anyway thanks for coming back to me Best regards Terry Peet

    • terry peet says:

      my e mail is can u contact me please Thanks Terry Peet

      • Alex says:

        If you’re talking about the Yorkshireman John Peters, he did pass away in his 50s, due to a heart attack I believe. His first wife was in fact South African, to whom he had 2 children with. Both of these children are in their 50s now and are living in the Midlands, UK.

    • Mike Smith says:

      I joined 5 Commando in November, 1964, and fought with Mike Hoare and John Peters. At the time I was the only New Zealander. Met John and his wife Peters in Singapore in 1969-70, and he and I with our wives were at Jack Erasmus’ wedding there. I lost touch when I moved to East Pakistan/Bangladesh. I heard recently he’d gone to Thailand after Singapore. Would appreciate any contact address for him.

      • john theobald says:

        Am also a New Zealander who was there. Now live in Johannesburg. If you are still around I would like to have a chat.

    • M.Peters says:

      Hello i would really appreciate it if you had any further information into John Peters life. Your ‘ex-girlfriend’ is infact my auntie who i still meet on occasion.

      • Neill G Hunt says:

        Right then your auntie is Tracy Ann born Gleneagles Hospital Singapore 1970 to Joan and John Peters she looks just like her mother some say when John passed away she was looked after by Lassiter that is not so Tracy was looked after by Leland & Carol Madsen in Florida for a number of years John did remarry to another Joan and had a son David who lives in Perth Western Australia.

        More to the story
        Regards Neill

  26. manuel arevalo says:

    attn. james w colburn…2nd 504 82nd airborne div. fort bragg nc.
    saw your comment on this page of history…I was one of the few out of bragg on this detail…..I was one of the few from A company 1st 504..If I remember right they only sent 5 out out each company of the 1st and 2nd 504.. It was a mess, but I was with some of those bel. troopers and they did kick ass..I also love the cuban flyers that gave support..then went right into the targets like they didnt care if they went down or not..It’s thing’s you don’t think about, or don’t want to think about…we had so many people on the c 130 we did’nt know if we could take off sometimes..of all the shooting and panic, the smell of fear and body’s got to me even more..If you respond maybe somethings you remember would bring some of mine back, no that I want to think about this shit..Buy if it helps you in any way we can shoot the shit about it….went to the Dom. Rep. after that too.. take care..Airborne,,All the way

    • Janet J Ray says:

      Manuel Arevalo:
      My father, Thomas “Pete” Ray was one of the 4 American pilots killed during the 1961 Bay of Pigs Invasion. During the 18 year mission to bring him home, I became close the the Cuban-American community and continue to be a major part of my life.

      Currently, I’m assisting the Cuban Exile Veterans of the Congo and their families perserve their legacy. I’ve started a FaceBook group (Makasi Legacy / Cuban Exile Veterans of the Congo). I would very much like to learn about your experience with them in Operation Dragon Rouge.

      Janet J Ray

    • Reginaldo Blanco says:

      I was one of the B-26-K pilots flying into Stanleyville ahead of the C-130. Our mission was to suppress anti aircraft guns positioned at the field. Thanks for your words. Best, Reginaldo Blanco

      • Clyde Cummings says:

        Have photo from Kamina of one of the 26’s taxiing in for fuel (RF 646)

      • Reginaldo Blanco says:

        It will be nice to see that reel about the B-26-K at Kamira. That´s where all the preparations for the assault to Stanleyville were made. I flew 646 in many ocassions,

  27. David H says:

    Manny Carvalho – you didn’t leave an email address for people to contact you.

  28. harry james says:

    shocked to read comments re john peters my sypathathy to hisfamily harry james

    • Sandy simpson says:

      Hi Harry , How are you ? Regards .Sandy Simpson

      • James MacKenzie says:

        Hi Sandy, are you a relation or friend of Eric Bacon? Some years ago I traded a pack of photos of the Congo from him, he told me they came from you.

  29. Chris Hoare says:

    Re Mike Hoare
    I am Mike Hoare’s son, Chris. I would like to hear from any former 5 Commando mercs who knew Mike and fought with him, as I am researching a biography on Mike’s life. Many thanks,

  30. Gary Hebert says:

    I was a paratrooper ,RTO, with US Strike Command ,Operation Dragon Rouge JTF Leo 1964-65. I have some pictures I would like to exchange with someone . Airborne Gary

    • Andrew Hudson says:

      Good day to you

      I am a retired soldier currently researching for a book on the military operations in the Congo during this period. I am looking for photographs of Operation Dragon Rouge and Noire as well as other military operations. I would be most grateful if you could sympathetically consider this request for high resolution (500kb to 1Mb) copies of your photos. I will give the necessary credit in the book and provide you with a signed copy of the publication once it is published.

      I look forward to hearing from you.

      • Lynette Britz says:

        Hi my dad may be able assist with some photos & info…lynette.britz

  31. Viciwanja Rosez says:

    Hi Chris,

    Glad to know that you are Mike Hoare’ s son.
    I knew your father very well. I grow up in Katanga and participated on the operation Red and Black Dragon. I was a 3 stars captain in the Katangees army and I took a long time care about the protection of the family of general Muke, chief commander of the Katangees Army.
    I knew also very well two collegues of your father…commanders Jean Schramme and Bob Denard.
    If you want to contact me my email is

  32. Leif Hellstrom says:

    To Gary Hebert and Manuel Arevalo

    I have been researching the US military involvement in the Congo for many years and would very much like to get in touch with you. Please contact me at


  33. Sverre Helgesen says:

    I was friends with a merc called Jimmy Duggan, who fought in Katanga etc. He had about 12 passports, so what name he used as a merc I can’t guess! Small muscular man, blond hair, always running everywhere. Had a bit of a temper and spoke several languages, including some African dialects. He was mates with Schramme, Marc Goosens (my blood-brother) Rennie (Rene, the Belgian medic, can’t recall his real name anymore, we always called him Rennie) Rolf Steiner, J-B Ianarelli, Georgio Norbiato, Siggi Mueller and his friend Christian, Maurice Lucien-Brun, and Johnny Erasmus. Also knew Peters, Williams, but Hoare avoided him (let’s just say Jimmy referred to Hoare as being a suitable name!) Hoare and Erasmus (Black Johnny) I never met, but I knew all the others and many more besides. All these guys were in Forsyth’s books, as he was using events they took part in, he was their intelligence officer! Know Freddie, too, but he refuses to talk to me. I rewrote his bestseller, The Day of the Jackal, now twice as long, he read it, but pretended ‘not to remember too much of all that, anymore’.

    Would love to find out details, photos etc., anything on Jimmy, in case I can add it to the book. Anyone wanting to read the book can have a free copy, I can send it as a file via the www.

    I traced Jimmy Duggan to Boxburg in J’burg SA, where there was an estate where several ex-mercs lived, but as I don’t know the name he’s using I can’t send him a copy of the book. He looked like an older version of himself, still very strong but white hair, still gets drunk in Siggi’s old bar, still gets into fights, still wins!

    Thanks for any help anyone can give me.

    • frederick says:

      Can you tell me did you know Frederickbson could have been called Alan or Geordie or Flash.

      best regards

  34. Viciwanja says:

    I lived in Katanga form 1952 to 1965.
    I was a very first member of the 4th Commando Katanga(4thComKat) that became the 5th Commando Brigade (5th ComKat) under major Mike hoare.
    I participated on the secret operation Black and Red Dragon in Stanleyville under the US flag.
    I was asked by a CIA crew to join the Katangese Tigers to participate on the biggest rescue operation ever in military history.
    I agreed and I was placed under the direct commantment of major Mike Hoare in the ” Ommegang” part of that operation.
    We helped to liberate 3,000 US , EU and others hostages out of the hands of rebels. The whole world called us mercenaries, but most of us were born in Africa or came very young to Africa, living there as in a new homeland. I joint the operation with the only purpose to be a withness of it and to be a guide and translator, because I knew the rebels languages. I never had a waepon in my hands during the operation..that I only can qualifie as Genocide

  35. Gary says:

    Hi – ref the 4th Commando Katanga, I have what I assume is an arm patch that would be sewn on to a uniform that says ‘katanga’ in a red/white/green shield with 4th Commando under it. It was given to me by my uncle who was in Rhodesia in the late 50’s /early 60’s. He said while he was in the the Rhodesian Army Reserve he and others moonlighted with the 4th Commando and that he knew Mike Hoare. I had the moonlighting bit confirmed by an ex member of the British South African Police last year as being something that was definitely done but until I saw the above post by Viciwanja to be honest, I thought my uncle was embellishing things about being with Mike Hoare. All interesting stuff.

    • Viciwanja Rosez says:

      I remember that I have given some katangees uniforms to a good friend of mine in Northern-Rodhesia. I was one of the fameous Tigers( 4thcomkat)in that time.
      His name was Robert Stell, a police officer, could that be your uncle?
      If he is, I just can tell you that he wad my best friend in that time.
      If you want a contact with me my email is
      respect for your uncle sir .

    • Viciwanja says:

      Hi Gary – is it possible to send me a pic of that 4th commando shield of Katanga? …

    • James MacKenzie says:

      Hi Gary

      I am a collector and researcher of Congo Mercenaries and would love to see a scan of the 4 Commando patch please.

      Many thanks

      James D.N. MacKenzie
      SAM – Southern Africa Militaria

  36. Wayne Seal says:

    I was with the 2nd Infantry Division out of Ft Benning, GA. I met a 5cdo in Leopoldville who i made friends with. We flew several flights into Bunia, Kamina, Stanleyville, and more. His last name was DeBayne (not sure of spelling). He was out of J’burg. If anyone knows him please contact me. I also met two mercs whose home was out of Ohio. I dont remember there names, but it facinated me that they were Americans who were mercs. If there are any other 2nd Infantry men out there, please contact me. According to records, we were never there. Ha!

    • kenrooker says:

      you are right about the records there was never anything in our file to show that we were there.I still remember the small compond of barracks ust south of the squad put the trip flares in the broom sage field around the barracks.hell they were air conditioned.better than we had on sand hill at Benning.feel free to contact me[ second to none] in the heading

      • Tom Young says:

        kenrooker- Your e-mail is not working for me. Contact me if you can. Did you eat at the terminal. The French Fries where great.. I had drinks with the man in question at Trinidad. He urged me to reenlist and not stay a civilian and breed like flies. Tom Young

  37. Sam McGowan says:

    Film footage from Stanleyville is on the net. Check for links.

  38. terry peet says:

    Thanks for your replies vis Mike Hoare and Peters
    My Biography will be out lat 2011 called Renegade Hero Not my choice of titles but there are some real heroes mentioned in the book
    Best wishes to all Afreaus

  39. Viciwanja Rosez says:

    @Terry peet

    Yes that was our name overthere….Affreux…(Awful)…
    always been proud to bear this name …
    Do you have some info about the dead of the UN Secretary General
    Dag Hammarskjold in 1961 (that year I became a member of the 4th commando Katanga)… ( ) …
    When I was in Ndola (Northern Rodhesia) I got some hot information that this was an act of the CIA .. the secret services of South-Africa should have papers about that…but the whole affair disappeared in the cover-up…

  40. Jeff Brister says:

    My friend, Bert Hayes, was a flight Engineer on one of the C-130 transports. He got to nipping the wine one evening and telling stories. He told me that when they landed, there was a shed of rifles along the edge of the runway and that the crew chief told them that if they could get off of the plane and back on before the hostages were ready, that they could take whatever weapons they wanted. He brought out an old 1903 Springfield 30.06 and gave it to me. I will forever cherish the rifle. If anyone knew Bert, I would like to know.

    • Sam McGowan says:

      This story does not make sense. The crew chief was a ground crewmember who took care of the airplane when it was on the ground and had no control over anything. The pilot, the aircraft commander, was in command of the crew. I doubt if there was any kind of shed on the side of the runway – runways are as the name implies, a long strip for airplanes to make their takeoff run. There might have been a building somewhere around the ramp but the pictures I’ve seen show a very small airline terminal and not much else. I was at Pope at that time and the name Bert Hayes doesn’t ring a bell although that doesn’t mean anything. There was a lot of trading in weapons in the Congo but it was with the mercenaries. Crews from Pope also operated Operation LEO, which was an ongoing mission that started in mid-1964 and continued until August 1965. LEO crews supported the Congolese army and the mercs.

  41. Jeff Brister says:

    It could be that I mis-understood or mis-remember some of what he was telling me. I assumed it was a crew chief, but I have never been in the militarty, so, I guess he could have been talking about the pilot/commander. And I just had the shed pictured along the runway somewhere.

    • Sam McGowan says:

      Jeff, drop me an Email at I’m in touch with a number of veterans of both DRAGON ROUGE and LEO and some of them may know him. This story sounds more like a deal with some of the mercs. There was a lot of trading going back and forth between the C-130 crews and the mercenaries. A lot of peope brought back weapons from the Congo.

      Actually, the flight engineer – they were called flight mechanics in 1964 – were the senior enlisted man on the crew. Normally a C-130 crew consisted of two pilots, a navigator (all officers) a flight mechanic and a loadmaster. An additional loadmaster was included on the DRAGON ROUGE crews. The 82nd Airborne had troops in Leopoldville who went out on missions to provide security for teh airplanes. Based on what someone else posted, there may have been some Air Force air police security personnel who went down from France on the DRAGON ROUGE/DRAGON NOIR force, although I have never heard any of the crews who were on the mission mention them.

  42. David Higgins says:

    I am compiling preliminary reference material for a book I am writing about “Red Dragon” for Osprey Publishing (London) for their Raid series (due out sometime in 2013). As I thought the book might be a good way to put out some unpublished/under-seen photos of the conflict I thought I would see if anyone might like to contribute any digital copies they might have. If so I would need to be granted the rights by the owner before any image can be published. I would of course assign proper credit.

    To provide a bit of background for me, I have worked with Osprey before, so if there are concerns about my credibility, etc. you can check with them. The same thing with Casemate Publishing. My military history books are also on Amazon, B&N, etc. if that helps

    Any questions please ask.

    Thank you,

    Dave Higgins
    Columbus, Ohio US

  43. terry peet says:

    The book Renegade Hero is due out 16th June .Amazon is showing the cover right now if anyone is interested
    Old Congo hands will recognise some of the incidents
    Take care
    Terry Peet

  44. Bekkers Richard says:

    togheter with Juan (Jean)Ubaghs,I served in 1964/65 as a vollonteer/private ,doing national service – in those years-in the 12 Cie , platoon B from the 2 Commando Battallion ,Flawinne (Belgium)we’re born in the same province (Limburg) and we speak the same Flamish language.
    both we participated in the ”Dragon Rouge Operation 24 November Stanleyville-Congo-..American troop carier wings C-130 .commanded by USA Colonell Gradwell .brought us ,taking of from Kleine Brogel =airforce base in North Belgium.the night of 18/19 November ’64.
    My cie with only 5 month’s Commando training and only 5 Parachute jumps we made at that moment. but wearing our GREEN BERET .. wash attached to the 1Para Battalion (Red Berets) lads with 11 months training and being ”Full Para Winged”(in the Belgian Para Commando Regiment we had 3 Battallions , those years..two Bon’s were wearing RED BERETS , only one Bon wearing the ” GREEN BERETS” SINDS THEY WERE CREATED IN THE UK IN 1942 DURING WWII… so we kept that early tradition while all of this units ,had to make and pass… the same Para Commando training…

    We made a Fuell stop at the Canarian Islands and arived in the afternoon on the ASCENCION ISLAND .STAYING IN STAND BY , AND DOING EXTRA TRAING (Jump drill from Herculesses and so on ) In Belgium we still jumped from C-119 Flying Boxcar..
    after a few day’s we toke of on ALERT for Kamina =Former Belgian AirForce base(Katanga ) the early morning of 24 November ’64 the ”Red Dragon was Airborne for the Stanleyville”
    My cie was to support 1 Para , jumping if nescecairy aswell on the airfield of Stan.. in case there should have been too much ressistance from the Simba’s , making it impossiblle to clear up the obstructed airstrips . for giving opportunities to the following craft’s to land..
    cause 1para did their job very well , the first c-130 ,I was sitting in ..after the cancelled ”Go!’ to jump ..touched the ground…
    asap in Infantry style directing for our to liberate hostages,and giving them support and cover during their advance back to the airfield ..
    3 day’s we stayed in Stanleyville, the second day a take of for my 12 Cie Commando was planned to jump on Bunia(operation called GREEN DRAGON- OR DRAGON VERT) BUT THE PLAN WAS CANCELLED ON THE VERRY LAST MOMENT.. during the time 2 Cie’s of 1Para Bon where parachuted again for a second operation in Paulis..Called Dragon Noire..( and as far as I know..NEVER in history of Airborne troops…the SAME para’s jumped in an operation LESS then 48 Hours..) yust as far as I know about it…..

    27 Th November ’64 we all regrouped in Kamina , and toke of again , the next day , for one more night to spend on the ASCENCION ISLAND .to arrive in Belgium the 1/12/1964..making a Tikkertape Parade in Brussels our Capital City

    Two young 1Para lads19 years old ,lost their young life during the resque of other people,and 1 Belgian Airforce Seargant was killed in the Stanleyville ,also several shot wounded Para’s or Commando’s , had some medicale care recieved in leopoldville (Kinshasa)

    Jean and me wented back to civic live in August 1965..keeping our memories untill today.I did met him again ,20 years later ,24 November 1984 during a ”Congo Veterans Reunion ”on the Citadel of 1Para Battallion in the City of Diest.. sure we had a few Beeeeeers together..

    meself ,I rejoined The Para Commando Regiment in April 1969 untill ,
    1987..participating one more time with my 1Para Battallion(serving as Corporal-chef) in a Mortar Team in a kind of the same style as the one 14 years before (An Armed Humanitair Resque operation )= an operation called ”Red Beam” on 19 May 1978 in Kolwesi (Shaba/katanga=Zaire/Congo)…Grouping together with nearly our entire Para Commando Regiment and the 2Rep..the Parachute Regiment from the French Foreign Legion..but this is an other story…

    my single son Olaf has been serving in 1Para Bon sinds 1989.. He participated in 4 African(Congo Kishasa, Congo Pointe Noire, Somalia,Ruanda ),,,actions with his 1Para Bon from Belgium..(always wearing his RED BERET ..for PEACE MAKING… not a Blue United Nations Berets.. for PEACE KEEPING..

    My beloved 1para Bon . desbanded sinds last year 28 August 2010.. desbanded by very stupid and aspecialy unrespectful politcians ,
    and certainly acompagnied by very yallouse Staf members…shame over them !!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Para Commando greetings TO ALL OF YOU !!!
    Bekkers Richard ( Thailand )

    • Viciwanja says:

      Nice to hear your story Richard… in that time I was in the schoolcie at Flawinne as a candidate officer (red beret) …. and I made almost the same traject as you … except that once we arrived at Kamina I went to Stan with the 5thComKat together with a few guys of the CIA ….. before that I was already a member of the 4th ComKat in the Katanga army … I grow up in that Country…

      • Janet Ray says:


        In your 9/22/2011 post you mention being in contact with “a few guys of the CIA.” I would assume this was the CIA Low Beam Team of Cuban exiles led by Rip Robertson using the code name Carlos. I’m in contact with the surviving members of this team and would like to communicate with you concerning your memories.

        Please place Congo in the title of any email you send.

        Janet Ray

    • jean ubaghs says:

      Goed weer van U the horen.Blijven in contact ik leef nu in Spanje.Beste groeten.Jea

    • jean ubaghs says:

      Dag Richard ik woon nu in Spanje.Mein e.mail is

      Beste groetjes.


  45. S.E.Stiehl says:

    Five planes dropped at Stanleyville, and four at Paulis two days later. Kitchen was a lieutenant, not a captain. The crew eliminated to get the drop planes down to four was that of a major who dropped out of the “close look” formation, i.e. got momentarily lost during the flight and took awhile to find his way back to the formation The modified B-26s that were to be something of a fighter escort also got lost on the way to Stanleyville and needed a DF steer from the C-130s to find the place, which was an airport with a concrete runway south of town. That runway was covered with metal drums, overturned vehicles, etc. to keep planes from landing. As the planes approached the drop point, which had us heading down the runway as there was just enough light to barely see, a tremendous barrage of tracers from at least one .50 caliber quad four and several other machine guns opened up. Since it was still basically dark, it looked worse than what the guys in the Baghdad hotel saw at the start of Desert Storm, but by the time the last of the five C-130Es dropped, however, the fire had stopped, such that the last airplane (with me in it) took only one hit. Realize that a C-130 has a wingspan of 110 feet, we were 700-800 feet above the ground, and we were doing only 120 knots indicated (the Belgian commander had negotiated our normal drop speed down five knots, which the AF commander should have resisted) – making us sitting ducks. I was told later that the guns had been sighted for a thousand feet over the runway, which saved our hides because most of the fire went over us and most of the hits were in the wings. Presumably the Simbas fired a long burst and then fled for their lives, which the Belgians summarily dealt with. We made a second pass eight minutes later (it takes that long to make a 360 in a C-130) to each drop a jeep with a Browning machine mounted on it and its crew off the ramp. As the plane I was in was the first to land back at base, we got to see the other four C-130s taxi in with tires shot out on one side and the wing on that side drooping, and/or with fuel spraying from their wing tanks in a stream like you get when you take the nozzle off a garden hose. The ground fire at Paulis was not as intense. The Simbas were ready for us at Stanleyville, because the BBC announced while we were on the way to the target that negotiations had failed and military action was imminent. It’s a pity that we couldn’t have dropped while the negotiations were still open. The Belgian troops were serious young guys who we got along with very well. I swapped my AF cap for the maroon beret of the lieutenant in charge of the troops in my plane. At the party thrown for the troops and crews in Brussels, I accidentally learned that a mother attending the party found that her son had been killed. She had come expecting to welcome him back. She broke down when told. Also, on the way back from the drop, someone reporting to someone in DC (probably the NSC), when they were told that the code books they had were out of date and useless, broadcast in the clear that the mission had been a success – a real no no. The second most exciting part of the Stanleyville drop, after the tracer barrage, was the plane losing the generator powering the essential bus, which has the cockpit lighting on it. That meant everything was suddenly black inside the plane and with no lights outside for reference in darkest Africa. After about ten seconds the flight engineer (and they were called flight engineers in 1964) switched the essential bus onto another generator and we tooled on with lights. On the way back to Brussels with troops aboard, my crew refueled at Las Palmas in the Canary Islands. As we made our approach in weather, the radio beacon on the beach failed to swing as we passed over it, and we could have crashed into mountains higher than our altitude a few miles west. As it happened, we broke out of the clouds with higher terrain several miles left and right of us. This was the closest to disaster. other than from ground fire, I came to in my 22,000 hour plus flying career, military and airline.

    • Sam McGowan says:

      I beg to differ on what flight mechanics were called. I, too, was at Pope at that time and the official title was “flight mechanic” and FM was on the 781. The flight engineer term was not properly assigned to C-130 flight mechanics until sometime around 1967 when a new Armed Forces Speciality Code was established for the field and all existing flight mechanics were awarded it to replace the 431X1F or engine shop AFSCs they carried. As for Kitchen’s rank at the time, he was reported as a captain in the AIRMAN article about the operatio that was published a few months after it happened. I remember him but couldn’t swear one way or the other what his rank was. I started out at Pope in OMS in 1963 then cross-trained to loadmaster and went to the 779th. From Pope I went to Naha and it was just before I left there that the flight mechanic was changed to flight engineer.

  46. kenrooker says:

    I was a sgt in co a 1st bn 9th inf second div and I was in the congo in dec/jan 65. glad I found this site and good to read comment from my brothers that were also there.1/9 Manchu keep up the fire

    • kenrooker says:

      btw does anyone remember the name of the asshole airforce Col.that was in cahrge.I’d like to have a chance to kick his ass.

      • James Ostrem says:

        I remember him well but can not come up with a name,will check files and find out. I was the pilot on an airland Had a whole in the right whick another crew member plugged with a broom handle. That Col you speak of tried to make our crew pay for the meals we gave to the hostages on the way to Leopoleville.

  47. Mike Smith says:

    I joined 5 Commando in November, 1964, and fought with Mike Hoare and John Peters. At the time I was the only New Zealander. Met John and his wife Peters in Singapore in 1969-70, and he and I with our wives were at Jack Erasmus’ wedding there. I lost touch when I moved to East Pakistan/Bangladesh. I heard recently he’d gone to Thailand after Singapore. Would appreciate any contact address for him.

    • Leif Hellström says:


      I am currently writing a military history of the Congo in the 1960-1967 period and would be most interested in getting in touch with you if I may. There was at least one other New Zealander in the Congo at the time, a pilot called Jock “Mac” MacDonald of 21 Squadron who I was in touch with some years ago.

      John Peters died of a heart attack in the 1980s but Mike Hoare is still around.

      You can contact me directly at



    • Mike Beech says:

      Hi Mike. I hale from shakey Christchurch these days. Been here forty years now on and off . I used to work with John Peters, Jim Lassiter, Dave Gough and others in the outfit known as Labnav which was subsequent to the finish of the Congo operations. And before JP setup Coastal Surveys out of Singapore. You may have “bumped into” Bernie Schaeffer another flyer during the “spook” era, i have been in touch with recently. You may also have known Jess Thompson who was the Labnav chief and technical guy. Who i was working with on airborne and marine seismic survey operations during the Labnav days. If you are interested my phone number is Christchurch 9425954. I would really like to get in touch with Black Jack Erasmus again assuming some angry father or husband hasnt finally caught up with him. Look forward to hearing from you………..Best regards………Mike(Michael) Beech………

  48. K.C. Merrill says:

    I would be interested in corresponding with anyone that was in the Congo/Central African Republic November 1964. I had family that was held hostage in Stanleyville. I wanted more information from people that were there first hand.

  49. Janet Ray says:

    I’m involved in a project to reunite the Cuban Exile Veterans of the Congo and their families to preserve the history. The Cuban Exiles had to flee their homeland when Castro took power. They worked under the CIA in ground, navel and air divisions. The air division became know as Makasi.
    Janet J Ray

  50. Janet J Ray says:

    There were a group of Cuban exile pilots who flew in the Congo from 1962-1967 including supporting the rescue operations. I’m helping preserve their history and would very much like to communicate with those who were in the Congo or their families. You my reach me at and use Congo for the subject line.

  51. AL PEYNO says:




  52. AL PEYNO says:

    YES CHECK WITH JANET RAY she is the founder of this group, very interesting lady, lots of knowledge.

  53. Gary Livingston says:

    My dad took part in the Congo operation his name was TSgt. O.T. Livingston would like to hear any details. I have old copies of his TDY orders. Have an old APR with operation Leo, Goldfire, and Cross Switch listed for 1964 to 1965 would love to get more info.

  54. John Fairbairn says:

    Does anyone following this thread have knowledge or a comment about C130 pilot / leader Ctlayton “Ike” Isaacson who participated in this operation??

  55. Tom Young says:

    I met Isaacon at a bar at Trinidad on our way to the Congo. He wanted me to reenlist and not stay a civilian and NOT “breed like flyies”. I think I pissed him off. Contact me. View my shadow Box at Its not complete yet. I think I saved his STAR and the lives of my air crew.

  56. Viciwanja says:

    answer to K.C. Merrill,
    if you are interested in corresponding with the most off people who survived Stanleyville 1964 please contact me on my email … I am not allowed to give you some links openly… by the way, I was there too…

  57. Viciwanja says:

    operation Red and Black Dragon Paris Match 1964

    Is there anybody who knows the name of the Captain on the cover holding an american child in his arms (named Beth).
    Here is the link of that magazine …. there is something wrong with the color of the beret ….originaly it should be kaki green but somebody changed it in red …. I dont know why and nobody is able to give us the name of that Captain

  58. Beth Davis Taylor says:

    I hope I am able to find the person who was holding me in the picture! I am wondering if we can upload pictures here. i would love to have that picture posted. My father was on the first plane that took off that we now know had Simbas shooting at them. He was held at the hotel and was in the line up to be shot when you all came around that corner! What a blessing you arrived when you did!

    • Viciwanja says:

      The name of that captain is Defreyne, he moved on to Stanleyville with the 5th brigade (Ommegang) of colonel Bem Vandewalle beause of this incedent ar november 21, 1964 …. The combat group left Dunga very early on next morning and progressed rapidly to his objective (Stanleyville), but the logistic team of “Ops North” fell into an ambush at Wamba and lt Glorieux was killed while major Génis and lt Passagez were seriously wounded. The helicopter H21B of cdt Brokken landed to evacuate them but major Génis succumbed to his injuries during the fly. He was replaced on the head of the logistical team by cpt Defreyne…. Actually I can not find out if the captain is still alive or were he ev lives … if anybody has more info plz let me know, or send a message to Beth Davis Taylor….

      • Leif Hellström says:

        The full name is Alphonse J. R. L. Defreyne, Belgian serial 47800. There are half-a-dozen A. Dufreyne in the current Belgian phone book so perhaps he is one of them.


  59. Viciwanja says:

    does anybody who was in Katanga between 1960 and 1964 remember sergeant Carlos Alberto De Oliveira Cruz (130239-1992) … he was a member of the Katanga army (Gendarmery) … He was on duty in the Portugees army and joined the Katangees army via Angola ar 1960/61…
    If you have any kind of information please send to my email wich is :

  60. augustine michael says:

    i jst finished reading the book ‘the making of an african legend;the biafran story’,written by frederick was so enlightening and has clearified otherwise aspects that which lead to the civil war that was played down.its really an educational piece.the exploits of the mercineries was the one aspect that held me spell bound.i just want to use this forum to ask about mercineries like Johnny erasmus,major georgio norbiatto,major steiner,fred hertz and the swedish veteran pilot count carl gustav von rosen.i would be very grateful if i could also get in touch with any of them or even mr email is

  61. fred says:

    If anyone remembers a Geordie in the 5th Com who died in the Congo I would love to chat. His name was Frederick Alan Gibson.
    Im his son and am doing all i can to get any onfo on him. He was recruited in Rhodesia.

    • mike smith says:

      The only “Geordie” I knew in the Congo with 5 Commando was a former ship engineer and we were good friends. I was with him when he was fataly wounded and died hours later. I sent his wallet and all the personal documents he had with him to his wife. She was living in Australia, Perth I think.


      • frederick says:

        Just to check do you remember what day he died or year


      • Fred says:


        I believe this was indeed my dad to confirm this he died in 1967 would that be correct. I have loads of pictures he left and would want to pass them on to someone he new him during this time.


      • Leif Hellström says:


        For the last year I have been working on a history of the volunteers in the Congo from 1960-1967 for a British publisher. My interest and research on the Congo goes back 20+ years. I would be very interested in getting in touch with you regarding the photos and any documents you may have relating to the Congo. You can contact me direct at

        Thanks in advance,


    • James MacKenzie says:

      Hi Fred

      What were your dads full names and do you have the exact date of his death?

      I am a collector and research of the Congo Mercenaries and would be grateful if you could email me some scanned images.

      Kind regards

      James D.N. MacKenzie
      SAM – Southern Africa Militaria

  62. leopold says:

    video from newsreel

    THE HORROR OF STANLEYVILLEYour browser does not support iframes.

  63. leopold says:

    When ‘your browser does not support the iframes’.


  64. M.Peters says:

    Hello, i would like to speak to anyone who may have served with or has any information on the mercenary ‘John Peters’. From what my family has told me so far… ‘John Peter’s’ was a mercenary and lead a battalion of men called the ‘Wild Geese’, he was in the British SAS, the film ‘Dog’s Of War’ was based upon his battalion and he had a mysterious heart attack even though he was more than perfectly fit and healthy, just as there was talk of the CIA’s murder’s from a pill which is untraceable and simulates what appears to be a heart attack. Several of the CIA’s mercenary’s had died from this mysterious heart attack…

    ‘John Peters’ was in-fact my (step) Grand Father. He raised My Father and My Auntie (as their father died) alongside his own daughter (My Auntie). This was when he married my Grandmother.

    I find that this man is a soul part of my family and i would really appreciate it if someone had information, pictures or experience’s with/of him that they would be able to share with me and the rest of his family he has left.

    Sincerely, M.Peters

    • Robert Peters says:

      Mat, I have loads of newspaper clippings. Come over and check them out…

    • Jo Dennett says:

      This also appears to be my great uncle. I am more than happy to share any information you have and extremely happy to find some new famliy members.

  65. frederick says:

    Hi to you all,

    I have been attempting to find anyone who knew Frederick Alan Gibson, I am his son. On his first return to Rhodesia he brought with him a large stash of Photos and other documents that i have kept in my possession for all these years.
    I would want to donate this to the right sources but would not release this until I can get all the details about my Dad.

    • Viciwanja says:

      Hi Frederic,

      I was in Rhodesia in 1956 and 1963 … I was living in Elisabethville in Katanga…
      Was your father also involved in the Katanga wars?
      My email is


      • Frederick says:


        Thank you for your response yes he was recruited in Rhodesia, but was originally from Newcastle .

        He died in his second trip to the Congo.

        If you know anything I would be most gratefull.

        best regards


        His full name Frederick Alan Gibson often known as Alan or Geordie

    • Leif Hellström says:


      I have been researching and writing about the Congo for many years. I have no specific information on your father, I’m sorry to say, but would nevertheless be most interested in getting in touch with you if I may. You can contact me directly at



    • Mike Smith says:


      He was killed sometime in late December, 1964, or January, 1965.
      I can’t remember the exact date.

  66. David Nicholson says:

    My cousin, michael Nicholson was on one of t C130E crews. He won the Air Force Air Medal while in the Congo 22Nov thru29Nov 1964.Does anyone remember nim?

  67. Al J. Venter says:

    Greetings all, and to you especially Janet and Vicivanja, both of whom have a solid handle on some of those fascinating African events.

    My name is Al Venter and I have just had published in the US, Britain and South Africa the book ‘Gunship Ace’, which is the biography of my good buddy Neall Ellis, currently flying Mi-8s operationally in Afghanistan. Check it out on I consequently have a vested interested in African military history

    I’m keen to make contact with anybody who worked with or knew the Swedish aviator Count von Rosen, the illustrious individual who helped Biafra’s Colonel Odumegwu Ojukwu (he died recently, I was sorry to learn).

    kind regards

    Al J
    contactable at

  68. David Nicholson says:

    Airman 2c Mike Nicholson was a crew chief of one of the C 130s. While on the ground loading hostages on the aircraft the wing was hit by 50 Cal round and fuel was leaking out. Airman Nicholson tore the sleeve off his shirt wrapped it around a piece of broom handle and under fire ran out and stuffed the rag into the leaking fuel tank so they could take off. For his heroism he was awarded the air medal. I am very proud of my cousin who was 19 years old at the time

    • Sam McGowan says:

      I knew Mike Nichols at Pope but couldn’t remember his name. He was actually the assistant crew chief. The crew chief was Frank Schneider. I don’t think he got an Air Medal for that though. Everyone on the mission got one. An act on the ground warrants a Bronze Star, but I don’t know if they were authorized for that mission since it wasn’t wartime. Drop me an Email at

  69. Al J. Venter says:

    Sorry, my address should read

  70. David Nicholson says:

    Were you on that mission in 1964??

  71. Viciwanja says:

    a friend of me “Pierre Coppens” who was also in Congo has this question: I WANT TO KNOW IF ANY ONE KNEW A SPANISH MERCENARY NAMED “AGUSTIN DE PAZ”…

  72. Anna Roosevelt says:

    Dear All:

    I am doing research for a book on the history of the former Belgian Congo and am interested in interviewing eyewitnesses of various events, especially the Katanga and South Kasai during the secession and the rebellions of the 1960s and the transition to independence in Congo, Rwanda, and Burundi. I was glad to see Mike Hoare’s son’s email address and will contact him directly, but I would love to find Roddy Russell Cargill and Richard Browne and anyone who worked with Jerry Puren in Katanga. Anna

    • Viciwanja says:

      Hi Anna,

      I don’t know if you have a facebook account because there are a few site like “5 commando and Katanga history”, “Stanleyville 1964” and a lot more with a lot of information and picture from that time. If you have I can add you to a few of them… I grow up in the Kasai and Katanga and was a very early member of the Katanga army (4 commando).

    • Viciwanja says:

      Jerry Puren,

      His task was to find mercenaries for the Katangese Gendarmery early ’60ties. But questions are raising why he was at Ndola when the plane of Dag Hammarskjold crashed (or was shot down?) near to the airport of that city in Northern Rhodesia (actually Zambia)

      • Anna Roosevelt says:

        Thanks Viciwanja: Jerry wrote a book that tells about his doings, some of them anyway. Among other things, he was in charge of developing the air operations for Katanga c. 1961. Later, he worked with the Tshombe and then Mobutu governments.

        Do you know Susan Williams book on Hammarskjold’s death? She implicates Jerry’s general group. In my studies of the mercenary operations in Katanga and S. Kasai, which were officered by regular Belgian and French military seconded to the secessions, I’ve learned that there was a largish group working in both secessions and in (N.) Rhodesia. Jerry was one of them. They (not every person, of course, but certain ones) were involved in both massacres and assassinations of perceived enemies of the secessions, and Williams feels there’s evidence that Dag’s was one of them. My evidence supports her results. All the best, Anna

    • nigel osborn says:

      Hi Anna,

      Reference those names you mentioned Richard Browne died quite a few years ago, also Josh Puren.
      Josh weaseled his way into the Katangan Air Force by suggesting he was an experienced aviator but he was never a pilot. He also sought out Tshombe when he discovered the UN was going to toss out the original 1961 mercenaries. He ended up in jail in the Seychelles & was lucky not to be executed.

    • Chris Hoare says:

      Hi Anna, did you ever find Cargill or Browne?
      I would love to correspond with Cargill especially.

      Regards, Chris Hoare

  73. Anna Roosevelt says:

    Oh, and I wonder if anyone of you knows the street addresses of Dr. Alexander Barlovatz’s clinic and residence in Stanleyville, Congo c. 1964, of which I am composing a map. I believe he and his wife did not have children. At least they are not mentioned in the literature. I’d also be interested in the street addresses of the Stan radio station c. 1964. Thanks.

    • brigitte says:

      In the mean time, Mr Jean Bamanisa Saidi has become the Governor of the Province Orientale. If you have Facebook, you can go to the group “gouvernement de la Province Orientale”

  74. Iakobos says:

    @ Anna Roosevelt, Dr Alexander Barlovatz had (at least) one child with Violette Nyakato. His name is Jean Bamanisa Saïdi, former MP and a very active businessman.
    You can easily track him on Facebook

  75. Anna Roosevelt says:

    Dear Iakobos: Thanks so much for that very valuable tip. I’m sure he will know the address of the climic and residence.


  76. David Braford says:

    I was assigned to the U.S. Strike Command in the 60s and remember us sending out the drop message for the Paras. But what did “E’ville” refer to? I thought we used it to refer to Stanleyville, but see Elizabethville on the map, also. By the way, I met a Belgian tourist in Calimesa, CA (apparently who had been to nearby Palm Springs) who saw my license plate of Bukavu and after a brief discussion, thanked me for my involvement in the rescue of his family.

    • Hoyt Brown says:

      I was in Bukavu. Never did know how to spell it. Thanks

    • brigitte says:

      @David Braford: do I understand well you live in SoCal? If so , I would love to meet you , I live in 90045. My parents and me (2 years old) left Stanleyville in 02/1960 but I just went back last February with one of the former hostages, she was 7 years old back then and was named “Little Miss Nobody” on the front page of a newspaper back then. On the other hand, my husband lived in Bukavu in 62/63 with his parents and siblings You can use to contact me.

  77. Peter Killen says:

    Did your ever meet the late 5 Comando George Killen.? I meet Mick and he told me died well.

  78. Hoyt Brown says:

    I am 68 years old and I was part of the JTF Leo from Pope AFB, NC and was a Crew Chief on one of the C-130’s.
    Kind of put this out of my mind until now. My daughter wanted me to write down some of my military experiences, Congo and Vietnam, for my grand children so this is how I got to this site.
    If I can remember correctly we had two C-130E’s, two UH-21 Helicopters from Germany. There were also T-28’s flown by Cubans. I think all of this was set up by the CIA. We stayed down there for almost 90 days. I never saw any Belgium Paratroopers. I think we come in after they had left. We hauled some refugees but mostly hauled mercenaries. One mercenary named Johnny became a good friend to me. Sure would like to know if he is still kicking. At that time he was 17 and I was 19.

  79. Hoyt Brown says:

    You darn well were there. I keep reading about the 82nd airborne. There were no 82nd airborne troops from fort bragg on my aircraft when we left Pope field which is next to fort bragg. The army troops we had as an escort were not 82nd airborne. Since we dropped many airborne troops from fort bragg, I would know if they were aboard. We carried no army troops on my aircraft to Leopoldville but they could have been on the other C-130. Bottom line the ones I saw in the Congo were regular army which backs up your story. I have no idea as to where the 82nd come in.

  80. Elizabeth Williams says:

    I read with interest your story about leaving on a DC3. My husband henry williams was part of a rescue operation out of the Congo on a DC3 and I wondered if you know of him .He was with East Africian Airways and came out with the poliot whose name I’ve forgotten. I hope you could tell me a bit more . Sadly my husband passed away a few months ago and I am just collecting stories for our children and grandchildren
    kind regards
    Elizabeth Williams

  81. Kanti Patel says:

    Many thanks to all who took part in \Operation Dragon Rouge \ in rescue of all foreign Citizens.

    My family of 3 plus me were part of hundreds who were rescued early morning by Paratroopers in Stanley ville and taken to Kinshasa by Big Tranporter Aircrafts (DC 3s !).

    I was 8yrs old then.

    God Bless All

    Kanti Patel
    Former Cllr, Cabinet Member and Deputy Leader of London Borough of Barnet

    • Viciwanja says:

      I mentioned your messages on a “French/Belgian” Stanleville site, all former hostages and they appreciate to see that this story is still going around the world and that many survived. The all thanks the ones who risked their lives in the different rescue operations:

      Victor Rosez a reçu le message suivant de: Author: Kanti Patel

      Many thanks to all who took part in \Operation Dragon Rouge \ in rescue of all foreign Citizens.
      My family of 3 plus me were part of hundreds who were rescued early morning by Paratroopers in Stanley ville and taken to Kinshasa by Big Tranporter Aircrafts (DC 3s !).
      I was 8yrs old then.
      God Bless All
      Kanti Patel
      Former Cllr, Cabinet Member and Deputy Leader of London Borough of Barnet
      August 23 at 8:12pm near Hong Kong

      Michael Dar and Gilbert Henrivaux like this.
      Michèle Timmermans-Zoll Désolée Victor il faut que je trouve le truc pour traduire. Si je n’y arrive pas, Alain m’aidera plus tard. Bisous

      Christ’l Prims Traduction par Google :

      Un grand merci à tous ceux qui ont participé à \ Opération Dragon Rouge \ dans le sauvetage de tous les citoyens étrangers.
      Ma famille 3 plus me faisaient partie de centaines de personnes qui ont été sauvés tôt le matin par des parachutistes à Stanley ville et emmenés à Kinshasa par Big Tranporter Aéronefs (3S DC!).
      J’étais alors âgé de 8 ans.
      Dieu bénissent tous
      Kanti Patel
      Ancien Cllr, membre du Cabinet et leader adjoint du London Borough of Barnet

      Michèle Timmermans-Zoll Un TRES grand merci Christ’l, cela me touche particulièrement, je faisais partie de ces gens là ! Je dois la vie aux paras et à l’Opération Dragon Rouge et Noir. Je ne suis pas très douée en informatique, mais j’ai toujours Alain pour venir à mon secours !!!! Là tu a été très efficace Alain n’était pas disponible. Merci encore et bisous

      Michèle Timmermans-Zoll Merci aussi à toi Victor, tu es toujours au premier rang pour les infos., c’est vraiment très sympa. Je t’embrasse.

      Victor Rosez ….et quelqu’un, un femme appelée Elizabeth Williams a repondu à ce message en anglais de Kanti Pate:
      My husband henry williams was part of the rescue team that came in on a DC3. So I read with interest your story of leaving on the last plane – a DC3. Can you tell me anything about this – do you remember any of the people involved? He was with East Africian Airways at the time and I remember him saying they packed a DC3 with people during that time..

      Sadly my husband passed away a few months ago and I am trying to collect stories about him for our children and grandchildren …………………………………………………………………………… traduction: Mon mari Henry Williams faisait partie de l’équipe de sauvetage qui est venue avec un DC3. J’ai donc lu avec intérêt votre histoire d’être parti avec le dernier avion – un DC3. Pouvez-vous me dire quelque chose à ce sujet – Vous souvenez-vous des personnes impliquées? Il était avec l’Est Africian Airways à l’époque et je me souviens qu’il disait qu’ ils avaient pris un DC3 bourré avec des gens pendant ce temps ..

      Malheureusement, mon mari est décédé il ya quelques mois et je suis en train de collecter des histoires de lui pour nos enfants et nos petits-enfants.
      Kind Regards
      Elizabeth Williams

  82. Patrick P Boude says:

    Mrs Williams,
    I was quite young at the time of that last DC 3 flight.The only thing that I recalled it was late in the evening very dark.My mother and my 2 brothers and I were placed in the front of the plane with 3 others and the rest of the plane were congolese . It is the only recollection that I have and it is very little…More than likely the 4 of us were taking care of as soon we arrived in Kinshasa by the Mobil Oil personal.
    Patrick P Boude

  83. John Theobald says:

    Hi Harry, I was on LOBO one. I remember your dog Simba ?

    We also met in JHB later I think you were living north of northcliff

    in those days. You may recall Axel Heinemann (now brown bread)

    from the radio well.

  84. B Brian says:

    Just come across this web sight and fascinating. I was in the congo 53 command under Lt Braun in 65 ish . from Bunia to Mahagy port then across country meeting up Farage then onto Dungo and endingup at Bangadi on the sudan border.

    2nd contract with headquarters in the Albertville area up to Baraka and Figie then on the way back to Albertville the towed barge sank with a lot of equpement hence I retired as John Peters took over and I did not have a lot of time for him.( John John )

  85. Anthony Legg says:

    Good day Mike, also was a member of LabNav in1968. Recruited by JP in London and sent to Freeport for training – stayed at Sutton Court Gardens and worked on both base station and ship board Shoran ops. Went to Trinidad and then on to Angola as marine op, on completion came out to Aus and worked the Monte Bellos for Wapet and then on to Tassie helping Western geo and on to NZ Westport. Quit there and settled in Perth. Day I got married JimL telegraphed me a contract to work at Falls Church, but turned it down… Labnav must have been near to its end at that point, JP was living in Applecross at that time and wasn’t happy that I quit

    Best wishes.

  86. Aervin5 says:


    I am currently researching the Stanleyville hostage crisis and OP DRAGON ROUGE. I’d love to get your first-hand account. Would you consider answering some questions for my research?

    If you get this message, please reply to


  87. Louise says:

    My father was there 1965 – 1967 and I know almost nothing. He was in Albertsville 5th Commando and in Force John.
    His name is Piet van der Walt.
    Anybody know him or would be able to give me some information on what they did and photos if possible?

    thanks and regards

  88. Louise van der Merwe says:

    My father was there 1965 – 1967 and I know almost nothing. He was in Albertsville 5th Commando and in Force John.
    His name is Piet van der Walt.
    Anybody know him or would be able to give me some information on what they did and photos if possible? Please email me at

    thanks and regards

  89. Anna Roosevelt says:

    I found the article from McGowan uncritical, poorly documented, and biased. Although writing about many subjects he did not personally observe, he does not cite the documentation on them by people who were involved. So, for example, he claims Hoare’s troops were not allowed to fight intoxicated. Had he read the accounts by members of Hoare’s own troops, he would have known that they were often drunk and drugged on marijuana. Anyone doubting that should read Ivan Smith’s accounts, which also make clear that Hoare was a figurehead, not a real commander. Also McGowan is really uninformed. He appears not to know that the supposed Simba threats against hostages in the local paper were written by Belgian agents, not by Congolese. They were written in Belgian, not African French. The Belgians also were in control of the radio station, from whence came other threats against the hostages. It was a put of job to justify military intervention. Contrary to McGowan, both Tshombe and Mobutu refused to write letters inviting the armed intervention. Furthermore, Gbenye and Soumialot were western agents working under cover. Also, Paul Carlson’s wife says in her book on the events that it is not known who killed her husband. So much for McGowan’s claims about that. And you’d never guess from his account that the Belgian military who came on land came late and that they included many officers who’d been involved in in the massacres of Congolese in North Katanga a few years earlier. Thus, the fact that these Belgians shot up hundreds if not thousands of Congolese civilians during the operations in Stanleyville operations and its environs had had a history of such atrocities. Finally, the supposed tortures and massacres at the Lumumba monument are completely unverified. They are based on an account by a Belgian who provided absolutely no concrete evidence, despite the fact that he was in a position to be able to take photos from his establishment overlooking the monument. Readers interested in the facts would do better to read careful, well documented accounts such as Odom’s, than McGowan’s.

    • Sam McGowan says:

      I found Anna Roosevelt’s critical remarks quite interesting considering that she was commenting on an article that was written thirty years ago before Odom’s article came out. My sources were contemporary accounts. The comment about Hoare not allowing his men to consume alcohol while on a mission came from an article in a news magazine that was published at the time. My information about the conditions in Stanleyville came from the book 111 Days in Stanleyville by David Reed. My article is not about what took place in Stanleyville; it’s about Operation RED DRAGON/DRAGON ROUGE and BLACK DRAGON/DRAGON NOIR. No, I was not there but I know many who were.

  90. Sam McGowan says:

    If anyone wants to read Thomas P Odom’s account, here’s a link –

  91. Sam McGowan says:

    I want to make some clarifications about this article. As I recall, it was published in a now-defunct magazine about mercenaries in the late 80s or early 90s. At the time, there was very little information about the operation other than David Reed’s book and a few articles that were published in news magazines at the time of the operations. Although I was not on the operation, I was a young aircrewmember assigned to the 464th Troop Carrier Wing at Pope AFB, NC and knew a lot of the crewmembers and maintenance personnel personally. Major Thomas P. Odom hadn’t even written his thesis for the War College at the time. I didn’t become aware of his thesis until sometime after 2000. If I were to write the article today, I might make a few changes but the intent and focus would the same. For those who complain about lack of sources, source material is not included in articles in commercial magazines. Those who were there have told me that the slaughter that took place in Stanleyville after the massacre was the work of the mercs and Congolese troops, not the Belgians. I don’t know. As for how Dr. Carlson died, there were accounts in the press at the time. I have not read his wife’s book and don’t have a clue what she was told or by whom. All of that took place in 1964, a half century ago. Very little was written about it at all until the 80s. In the US the events were pretty well forgotten after we became involved in a long war on the other side of the world that became the focus of the national media and the military. I find it interesting that there seems to be continuing interest on the other side of the Atlantic.

  92. iakobos says:

    Quite a few of your question marks and uncertainties could find the light in Patrick Nothomb’s “Dans Stanleyville”, published in ’93 and again, with additions, in 2011 -ISBN978-2-87202-022-5.
    Interestingly, the publication was forbidden by the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for 28 years.

  93. Chris jones says:

    Hi Manny

    Are you still in living in Sydney? We caught up a few years (decades !) ago when you were passing through Perth.
    Think you were doing insurance work then.
    Drop me an email if you get a chance.
    Chris Jones

  94. […] Yes, the capitalist and racist West did assassinate the Congo’s Patrice Lumumba,88 but they could not do it without inside help. Power-hungry elements within the African government and military structure such as Mobutu Sese Seko and Joseph Kasavubu made it possible. And they benefited greatly from the removal of Lumumba and others dedicated to empowering Africa and not the capitalists in the West. And with the expert help of professional European soldiers,89 often working undercover for, or in concert with, various intelligence agencies with vested interests in African resources, these sell-outs helped keep Africa weak for decades.90 […]

  95. Bobby (Shorty) Caven says:

    Hi Sandy. Long time. Still alive and kicking. Living in Uk. Where are you?
    Sorry too to hear about Johnny Peters. Condolences.

  96. Janet J Ray says:

    Dr. Paul Carlson was murdered by the Simba’s according to those who were with him when he was shot trying to scale the side of a walled porch. Missionary Chuck Davis was trying to help Carlson over the porch wall. Carlson had his elbows on the top of the wall along with a knee and a foot. Davis was holding his hand when a Simba with a Sten gun shot him in the head. This took place shortly after the Simba’s began their massacre of innocent men, women and children. The Belgium paras hadn’t even entered Stanleyville.
    Janet J Ray

  97. Michèle Timmermans-Zoll says:

    Stanleyville, en 1964.
    L’histoire telle que moi je l’ai vécue, ressentie, sentie, très égoïstement, je m’en excuse.
    Avant que nous ne soyons emmenés à l’hôtel des Chutes, nous vivions déjà des situations très pénibles.
    Perquisitions, les rebelles entraient, sans prévenir, à six ou sept, enfants soldats compris. Brutaux, effrayants, cherchant armes, nourriture, créant souvent des paniques que nous ne montrions pas. Ils renversaient tout, vidaient le frigo. Un enfant soldat bien souvent le même, je le reconnaissais, armait son arme, pointant le canon sur la tempe de mes bébés. Il me regardait en riant. Je savais que je devais rester impassible, surtout ne pas bouger, peu de choses auraient pu faire partir le coup. Après quelques minutes, il retirait son arme, remettait la sécurité et partait d’un énorme rire. Comment expliquer cette peur, il n’y a pas de mots. C’est arrivé à plusieurs reprises. Ces rebelles tiraient sur les Africains dans la rue pour je ne sais quelle raison. Les Africains devaient circuler avec une branche et crier \maie, maie\, sans cela, ils étaient abattus. Il y avait trois cadavres devant chez nous, le magasin Peneff. C’était horrible, et le climat étant ce qu’il était, l’odeur était insupportable, en écrivant j’ai l’impression de la sentir encore.
    La nuit ça tirait de tous côtés, nous nous réfugions dans le seul couloir de l’appartement. Nous étions cinq adultes et quatre enfants. Pas de lumière, mais la peur toujours cette peur! Dans le fond de ce couloir, il y avait une petite salle de bain, avec une mini fenêtre. Malgré cela, nous avions vraiment très peur d’y aller pour les toilettes. Pour la nourriture, c’était la débrouille. Nous avions un boy qui nous ramenait des petites quantités de ce qu’il pouvait trouver. Quand l’atmosphère
    paraissait un peu plus calme, nos hommes partaient à vélo (tous les véhicules avaient été réquisitionnés) chercher à manger. Tout ce qu’on trouvait était bon.
    Monsieur Hardy était avec nous. Il était arrivé avec le dernier avion et devait prendre la route avec une voiture qui se trouvait chez nous. Tout avait été convenu avec mes parents à Bujumbura. M.Hardy vivait à Buja avec son épouse et son fils de 10 ans, Daniel.
    Il a donc vécu comme nous ces évènements durant quatre mois. Malheureusement, comme Marco il est décédé.
    Par la suite, ils sont venus nous chercher avec deux véhicules. Il fallait faire très vite, contrôle de papiers…..Je n’ai eu le temps que de prendre deux biberons, deux langes et un bébé sur chaque hanche. Marco, lui, prenait nos papiers. Pas le temps de réfléchir, ni de se poser de questions.
    Arrivés à l’hôtel des Chutes, il y avait beaucoup de monde, nous étions au fond, ensemble, assis à une table. Là, nous avons vu que les rebelles enlevaient le voile des religieuses avec violence. Monsieur Nothomb est intervenu, ils l’ont battu. Ma fille s’est mise à crier, ils ont hurlé de la faire taire…..faire taire un bébé! Menaces etc. J’avais, à ce moment-là, un bon Dieu pour moi, la petite s’est tue. Après un certain temps, je ne sais plus combien, ils ont décidé que les hommes partiraient, les camions sont arrivés, ils ont fait monter les hommes et sont partis. Ils nous ont fait monter à l’étage. Nous avons réalisé que tout pouvait nous arriver. Nous avons pris une chambre, la première à côté de l’escalier. Il y avait Mady Peneff, ses deux petites filles, une autre personne, je ne sais plus qui, mes deux bébés et moi. Il n’y avait pas de place pour tous sur un lit de deux personnes. J’ai aménagé, dans un coin, un petit enclos pour mes bébés, y ai mis une couverture de \zamu\. J’ai pris une autre couverture de « zamu » pour moi. Je dormais par terre, à côté de mes bébés, toute habillée, avec mes chaussures et mes lunettes. A côté de moi, une bouteille vide, au cas où je devrais me défendre ! Ce n’était qu’illusion, je n’aurais jamais su me défendre ni défendre mes bébés. Heureusement, cela ne m’est pas arrivé. Toutefois, la nuit ils rentraient et nous braquaient avec des torches en pleine figure. Nous entendions crier des femmes dans des chambres à côté. Nous savions ce qui se passait. Nous ne pouvions rien faire. Le matin, nous allions les aider comme nous le pouvions.
    J’étais tétanisée, je ne laissais jamais mes bébés, un sur chaque hanche en permanence. Il y avait une terrasse tout le long, sur laquelle donnait chaque chambre. Cela nous permettait quand même de sortir de notre trou. Nous avions aussi une toute petite terrasse qui donnait sur l’extérieur. Une nuit, tard, j’entends doucement frapper à cette porte, j’ouvre, c’était mon boy, effrayé mais avec une boîte de lait en poudre et quelques langes. Je l’aurais bien embrassé. Il m’a repris les langes sales. Il a fait cela chaque fois qu’il en a eu l’occasion, il m’apportait ce qu’il trouvait. Encore aujourd’hui j’y pense souvent et combien je le remercie.
    Les Grecs et les Portugais nous apportaient à manger, la plupart du temps il n’y avait pas assez pour tous. Comme une bête, je guettais et j’étais dans les premières pour avoir quelque chose pour mes enfants et moi. Ce n’est pas très honorable, mais je ne pensais qu’à nous, je me sentais traquée. Besoin de manger pour vivre. Avec le lait en poudre je mélangeais de l’eau du robinet, brune, que je faisais passer dans de
    l’ouate. Je pensais éviter ainsi que ne passent les crasses. J’y mélangeais une sardine. Je coupais un peu le trou des tétines. Mon fils avalait, il avait faim. Ma fille ne voulait pas. Je l’ai donc forcée à la cuillère, je voulais à tout prix qu’elle mange. Un jour, on nous a apporté des boîtes de poulet entier, venant encore de la guerre de Corée. Elles étaient gonflées, personne n’osait y toucher. Je suis arrivée à ouvrir une boîte, une odeur épouvantable, j’ai retourné le tout dans une gamelle, c’était de la gélatine. Mes enfants et moi avons mangé….On m’appelait « poubelle », mais mon instinct me dictait cela. Je devais conserver un minimum de forces pour mes enfants. Je ne les lâchais pas. Les hommes sont venus une fois, surveillés mais vivants, pas moyen de parler, mais de part et d’autre un peu rassurer.
    Puis a commencé la guerre des nerfs. Les rebelles nous disaient que le lendemain, ils abattraient 9 de nos maris au Monument Lumumba. Effectivement, on entendait les neuf coups. Je ne bronchais pas, ils nous regardaient. Malheureusement, certaines ont craqué, elles ont été battues.
    J’étais au Congo depuis des années, à Stan depuis 55, je savais qu’en aucun cas, je ne devais montrer mes sentiments. Je parlais le Swahili, mes enfants (« mapassa ») étaient nés à Stan. Les premiers Européens depuis l’indépendance. Je suis persuadée que tout cela a fait qu’on ne nous a pas touchés. Mais c’est après qu’on analyse la question.
    * signifie « jumeaux » en swahili
    Quatre mois, avec la faim, la soif, le manque de sommeil, et cette peur panique! Une ambiance de violence, de brutalité. On n’est plus soi-même, on ne réfléchit plus, on agit avec instinct, on peut même, soi-même, être agressif pour le bien de ses enfants. Ca m’est arrivé avec une personne qui me demandait de l’aider, mais j’aurais dû laisser mes petits, j’ai dit non. C’est très dur cette vie, ça n’a plus rien d’humain.
    Le 22 novembre nous avons été transférés au Victoria, nous y avons retrouvé nos maris. Nous étions rassurées et contentes. Mais rien ne changeait, au contraire. Les rebelles étaient surexcités, drogués. Nous n’étions vraiment pas tranquilles. Toujours cette atmosphère de terreur et de peur.
    Le 24, nous sommes réveillés par le bruit des avions, je regarde par la fenêtre et ce sont les paras !! Je me dis \c’est fini, c’est la mort ou on en sort\. J’attrape à toute vitesse deux biberons de lait, je prends un comprimé, qui se trouvait là, du \Pertranquil\, un calmant, je prépare mes bébés. Nous sommes tous paniqués.
    Les rebelles montent dans les étages, nus, avec juste quelques branches autour de la taille, machettes et armes à la main. Ils sont fous furieux, hurlent, donnent des coups au passage et exigent que les hommes descendent. Je vois donc par la fenêtre, tous les hommes regroupés partir dans la rue. Je m’aperçois qu’une femme suit à quelques mètres. Sans réfléchir plus, je me dis qu’on va, nous, passer un mauvais quart d’heure. Je prends mes bébés, je descends et je suis les hommes aussi. Mon mari se retourne et me voit arriver de loin. Il ralentit, j’accélère et on se rejoint. Arrivés au bout de la rue, ils nous font arrêter, discutent bruyamment, toujours dans un état de totale colère. Un sourd-muet qu’on connaît est là…une vraie terreur. L’un d’entre eux donne l’ordre de tirer, à bout portant, tout le monde se couche. J’ai à côté de moi mon mari, un des bébés, l’autre est à mes pieds. Celui qui
    est à côté de moi hurle et essaye de partir à quatre pattes, je le tiens de toutes mes forces pour qu’il ne sorte pas de la mêlée et devienne une cible. Les coups de feu partent dans tous les sens. Je suis touchée, je me rends immédiatement compte que c’est grave, je ne sais presque pas respirer, j’ai du sang partout, je dis à mon mari de bien garder les enfants. Il panique vraiment, se redresse légèrement, crie d’arrêter mais est touché. Une balle dans la tête, il meurt sur le coup. Je m’en rends compte de suite, je suis affolée, j’essaie d’empêcher le sang de sortir du petit trou qu’il a à la tempe, je crie mais rien ne sort, je ne sais pas respirer. Les coups de feu se calment, les gens hurlent, ceux qui peuvent s’encourent, mais sont immédiatement abattus, car il reste des rebelles cachés dans la verdure. Les paras arrivent, quelqu’un me prend dans les bras, je regarde et me rend compte que c’est le Colonel Laurent, je le connais très bien, nos yeux se croisent, il n’en revient pas. Il me met dans la maison qui est là, à côté, défonce la porte avec son pied, m’installe par terre, me dit quelques mots gentils et repart. Après cela un trou ! Je me retrouve par la suite à la sortie de la petite galerie de Larousse Congo. J’ai près de moi l’aumônier militaire, il me donne les derniers sacrements, je suis calme, je ne sais pas où sont mes enfants ni s’ils sont vivants, mais je ne parviens pas à réagir, je ne pense qu’a eux. Un trou. Je me retrouve dans un pick-up avec un autre blessé et quelqu’un qui n’a rien, il nous accompagne vers l’aéroport, je me rends compte qu’on nous tire dessus de tous côtés. On arrive à l’aéroport, je vois ma belle-soeur, Paule, blessée au bras, mais debout, je lui dis que Marco est mort, elle me rassure, mais je m’énerve et lui affirme qu’il est mort, que je ne sais rien des enfants. Un trou. Je me retrouve dans un avion, par terre, beaucoup de bruit, des bancs tout le long. Madame Domasic est là, elle me dit que les enfants sont là, qu’ils n’ont rien. J’entends une fois encore qu’on tire sur l’avion. Un trou. Je me retrouve dans une ambulance, le sang me sort par la bouche et le nez. Un trou. Je suis dans une chambre d’hôpital avec, à mes côtés, ma belle-soeur, Mady, et mon beau-frère, Michel. Je suis couchée sur le ventre, je respire difficilement. On me soigne localement c’est tout. Arrive la RTB pour interviewer Mady et Michel. Personne ne s’occupe de moi. Un trou. Me voici dans une chambre, seule. Le médecin m’annonce qu’ils vont me mettre un drain, sous anesthésie locale. Je m’en souviendrai longtemps, mais c’est ma seule chance pour le moment. Je souffre beaucoup, le drain en verre, et moi sur le dos !
    On m’annonce que ma mère est là, que je dois à tout prix rester calme, que tout va bien. Il faut dire que mes parents sont restés sans aucunes nouvelles depuis quatre mois, plus peut-être. Que mon père devenait fou d’inquiétude. Ils ont reçu un premier télégramme du Ministre P-H Spaak, leur annonçant que mon mari et moi avions été tués, et que les enfants avaient disparu! Puis, un nouveau télégramme disant que j’étais à l’hôpital Danois à Kinshasa, mais entre la vie et la mort. Ma mère a immédiatement fait le nécessaire pour obtenir un visa et mettre les enfants sur son passeport. A Bujumbura, tout le monde savait ce qui se passait, ma mère a donc été fort aidée et a pu partir très vite.
    Je viens de retrouver un article datant de l’époque, il s’agit d’un extrait de la chronique journalière d’un commerçant belge à Stanleyville :
    \Madame Marco Peneff fut transportée par après, quasiment inconsciente, et elle ne fit aucun mouvement. On aurait dit qu’elle était morte, mais je savais que non car elle avait dit peu de temps avant à Michel Peneff \Dis à Poncelet de me mettre une couverture, j’ai si froid.\
    C’est une des familles les plus éprouvées. \
    Je viens de recevoir une lettre de Daniel Hardy que j’ai retrouvé il y a peu. Il m’envoie également une photocopie de la lettre que sa maman a reçue de l’Ambassade de Belgique de Leopoldville, en décembre 1964. Souvenir dont je ne me souviens plus mais qui m’émeut beaucoup. Je cite : \C’est grâce au témoignage de R.P.Vereertbrugghen, curé de la Cathédrale de Stanleyville, qui connaissait très bien la famille Peneff, chez qui logeait votre époux, que celui-ci put être identifié avec certitude ».
    D’après les déclarations faites par Madame Marc Peneff-Zoll, hospitalisée à Leopoldville au curé-doyen de Stanleyville qui lui rendait visite, c’est Monsieur Marc Peneff qui aurait gravé le nom Hardy sur la montre de votre mari \.
    Ma mère est donc arrivée dans ma chambre, détendue, souriante, comme si elle m’avait quitté la veille…….Quel courage, quelle force, je l’en remercie encore, bien qu’elle ne soit plus là. Je regrette de ne pas lui avoir assez dit combien elle m’a soutenue et aidée. Je ne lui ai pas assez dit combien je l’aimais et l’admirais. Les histoires du passé étaient peu de choses à côté de ce qu’elle a fait pour les enfants et moi, ainsi que le reste de ma famille, j’y inclus tout le monde.
    Elle m’a donc prise en charge directement, moralement en particulier, en me disant que les enfants étaient bien.
    En fait, les enfants étaient dans deux familles différentes, et le problème était de les retrouver. Ils étaient bébés, personne ne savait qui ils étaient. L’Ambassade de Belgique et l’acharnement de ma mère a fait qu’on a assez vite retrouvé le premier, pour le second, ça a été plus difficile. Tout cela je l’ai su bien après.
    Ma mère restait avec moi la journée, puis me quittait pour justement s’occuper du reste. Une nuit j’avais très soif. Dans les chambres, il n’y avait pas de sonnettes, les gens criaient pour appeler, et aussi de douleur. C’était très dur d’entendre cela. Finalement un infirmier africain m’apporte à boire. Je bois sans me rendre compte de rien, en fait il m’avait donné de l’eau de Cologne ! Maintenant je comprends, le travail, le stress de ces gens. Une erreur est possible. Sur le moment, je lui en ai beaucoup voulu. Depuis ma mère a décidé de rester la nuit aussi, elle dormait dans un fauteuil. Après plusieurs jours, voyant que je tenais le coup, les médecins ont pris le risque de me faire rentrer en Belgique avec un avion sanitaire pour grands blessés. Nous étions donc à plusieurs sur des civières avec un accompagnateur, en l’occurrence, pour moi ma mère. Les enfants étaient avec nous.
    Nous sommes arrivés à Bruxelles le 6 décembre 64, il faisait noir. Tout était parfaitement organisé. Les ambulances étaient là. Je me suis retrouvée dans une ambulance, dans laquelle m’attendait ma marraine. Dans l’avion on m’avait dit que j’allais à l’Hôpital Saint-Pierre. L’ambulancier m’amène à Brugmann, je lui dis que je refuse de descendre… veux aller à Saint-Pierre. Tout le monde s’affaire et finalement nous voilà partis pour Saint-Pierre, où, en effet, je retrouve ma mère, mon père, mon oncle et ma marraine qui m’accompagnait. Il a fallu que tous me laissent, car je devais être soignée de suite, radios etc. J’ai eu beaucoup de chance que le Professeur Dumont se soit occupé de moi. Il s’est battu pour que l’on ne m’enlève pas le poumon, il jugeait qu’il fallait attendre. On m’a enlevé le drain derrière pour m’en mettre un plus fin et par-devant. Nettement mieux et plus confortable. On m’a
    branchée à un poumon artificiel durant quelques jours. Et – oh miracle ! -, mon poumon a doucement repris. Après cela, il fallait enlever la balle, et avant ça, la trouver. Ca n’a pas été facile de la repérer .Finalement elle était en-dessous du bras. Anesthésie locale aussi, je pesais 32 kg. !
    En définitive, trois côtes éclatées, balle dans la plèvre, mais j’en suis sortie. Mes deux petits bouts étaient, eux, dans le Home Reine Fabiola à La Hulpe. En quarantaine au début, germe de la paratyphoïde, dysentrie, malnutrition. Mon fils, une balle lui a effleuré la tête, on voyait l’os, mais c’est tout ! Ils sont restés là durant environ quatre mois. Mes parents m’ont conduite chaque jour à La Hulpe, car même si je souffrais énormément du dos, je voulais voir mes enfants. Par la suite, il a fallu tout reconstruire, peu à peu, avec beaucoup de chagrin, de cauchemars. Mes enfants m’ont donné le courage et la force qu’il fallait.
    Mais tout reconstruire n’est pas facile !
    Heureusement maman s’occupe de tout. Nous sommes rentrés sans le moindre papier. On était en 1964, le Congo était indépendant.
    Nous habitions Ixelles, maman a couru partout, il fallait prouver que j’étais mariée, que les enfants avaient un père légitime, et même, dans un premier temps, prouver le décès de Marco. Ceci a vite été solutionné, mais pour nous, une vraie galère. Finalement après des mois, il a été décidé que je devais fournir des attestations faites sur l’honneur, de personnes connues. J’ai encore plusieurs de ces attestations. Et en fin de compte les enfants ont été enregistrés à la commune d’Ixelles. C’est pourquoi, depuis, lorsqu’ils ont besoin d’un acte de naissance, c’est à Ixelles qu’ils le reçoivent même s’ils n’y sont pas nés.
    Maman a travaillé six mois pour nous, pour que nous ayons tous nos droits, rien n’a été négligé ni oublié. Merci maman, encore merci pour nous trois !
    Tous, nous avions une \marraine\ pour nous aider à nous réintégrer. Pour moi, c’était Madame Detiege, Direction de la Croix Rouge. Cette dame m’a beaucoup aidée, surtout quand j’ai recommencé à travailler.
    J’ai aussi eu beaucoup d’aide de la Pharmacie Mertens. Ils ont organisé des collectes de toutes sortes.
    En 1965, j’étais en convalescence. Un jour je décide d’aller seule au cinéma, qui se trouvait avenue Louise, pour voir le film de Lelouch \Un homme et une femme\. Je suis restée \scotchée\ à mon siège en regardant ce film et en écoutant cette magnifique musique. Pour la première fois, je me suis posée des questions sur mon avenir. C’était tellement fort que je suis resté dans la salle pour le revoir une deuxième fois.
    Chaque fois que j’entends la musique, ou que l’occasion se présente de revoir le film, je ne le manque pas et je repense à \moi\ ce jour-là.

    Stanleyville, in 1964.
    The history such as me I have lived it, felt, felt, very selfishly, I apologize.
    Before that we are taken to the hotel by the falls, we live already very painful situations.
    Searches, the rebels were, without warning, at six or seven, child soldiers included. Brutal, scary, seeking weapons, food, often creating panics that we showed not. They overthrew everything, emptying the fridge. A child soldier well often the same, I recognize it, arming his weapon, pointing the barrel on the Temple of my babies. He looked at me with a laugh. I knew that I had to remain impassive, especially not to move, few things could do from the shot. After a few minutes, he withdrew his weapon, recovering security and was leaving a huge laugh. How to explain this fear, it has no words. It happened on several occasions. These rebels were shooting at Africans in the street for don’t know what reason. Africans had to circulate with a branch and screaming \maie, maie\, without it, they were slaughtered. There were three corpses before we store Peneff. It was horrible, and the climate being what it was, the smell was unbearable, writing I feel the feel again.
    The night it was shooting on all sides, we take refuge in the only hallway of the apartment. We were five adults and four children. Not light, but fear still this fear! In the background of this corridor, there was a small bathroom, with a mini window. Despite this, we were really very afraid to go to the toilet. For the food, it was la débrouille. We had a boy who brought us small amounts of what he could find. When the atmosphere
    seemed a little quieter, our men went by bicycle (all vehicles had been requisitioned) seek to eat. All there was was good.
    Mr Hardy was with us. He had arrived with the latest aircraft and should hit the road with a car which was with us. Everything had been agreed with my parents in Bujumbura. M.Hardy lived in Buja with his wife and his 10-year-old son, Daniel.
    He therefore lived like us these events for four months. Unfortunately, as Marco he died.
    Subsequently, they came to pick us up with two vehicles. Should be done very quickly, control of papers…I got time to take two bottles, two diapers and a baby on each hip. Marco, he took our papers. No time to think, or to ask questions.
    Arrived at the hotel by the falls, there were many people, we were at the bottom, together, sitting at a table. There, we saw that the rebels removed the veil of religious violence. Mr. Nothomb intervened, they beat him. My daughter began to cry, they have yelled the silence… silence a baby! Threats etc. I had, at that time, a good God for me, the small is is killed. After some time, I don’t know how many, they decided that the men would leave, trucks arrived, they have pushed men and left. They made us climb upstairs. We realized that everything could happen to us. We took a room, the first next to the stairs. There were Mady Peneff, his two small daughters, another person, I no longer know who my two babies and me. There was no room for all on a double bed. I have arranged a small enclosure for my babies, in a corner, put a coverage of \zamu\. I took another cover of “zamu’ for me. I slept on the ground next to my babies, all dressed, with my shoes and my glasses. Next to me, an empty bottle, in case I should defend me! It was that illusion, I would have never known defending me neither defend my babies. Fortunately, this did not happened to me. However, the night they returned and us basis with torches in full figure. We could hear screaming women in side rooms. We knew what was happening. We couldn’t do anything. In the morning, we would help them as we could.
    I was stunned, I never let my babies, one on each hip at all times. There’s a terrace all along, which gave each room. This still allowed us to get out of our hole. We also had a very small terrace giving on the outside. One night later, I hear gently knocking on this door, I open, it was my boy, frightened but with a box of powdered milk and a few mixes. I would have kissed him well. He took me the dirty diapers. He did that every time he has had the opportunity, he brought what he found. Even today I think about often and how much thank.
    The Greeks and Portuguese we brought to eat, most of the time it was not enough for all. Like a beast, I watched and I was in the first to have something for my children and me. This is not very honourable, but I thought about us, I felt trapped. Need to eat to live. With powdered milk I mixing water faucet, Brown, I did go in to
    wadding. I thought avoiding pass dirt. I mix a sardine. I cut a little hole teats. My son swallowed, he was hungry. My daughter did not. I so forced with a spoon, I wanted at any price that she eats. One day, it brought us boxes of whole chicken, still from the Korea war. They were swollen, no one dared touch it. I arrived to open a box, a terrible smell, I returned all in a mess, it was gelatine. My children and I ate… called me ‘trash’, but my instinct told me this. I had to keep a minimum of forces for my children. I do not quit. The men are who came once, monitored but alive, not way to talk, but part and a little reassuring.
    Then began the war of nerves. The rebels told us that the next day, they reach 9 of our husbands to the Monument Lumumba. Actually, meant nine shots. I do not bronchais, they looked at us. Unfortunately, some were cracked, they were beaten.
    I was in the Congo for years, Stan from 55, I knew that in any case, I should show my feelings. I spoke Swahili, my children (“mapassa”) were born to Stan. The first Europeans since independence. I am convinced that all of this has made us has not affected. But after analyzing the question.
    * means “twins” in swahili
    Four months, with hunger, thirst, lack of sleep, and this fear panic! An atmosphere of violence, brutality. It is no longer self, one reflects more, is with instinct, one can even, oneself, being aggressive for the sake of her children. It happened to me with someone who asked me to help him, but I would have had to leave my little, I said no. It is very hard this life, it no longer has anything human.
    November 22 we were transferred to Victoria, we have found our husbands. We were reassured and happy. But nothing changed, on the contrary. The rebels were overexcited, drugged. We were really not quiet. Still that atmosphere of terror and fear.
    24, we woke up by the noise of the aircraft, I looked out the window and what are paratroopers! I say finished \c’est, is death or one in sort\. I catch at full speed two bottles of milk, I take a Tablet, which stood there, from \Pertranquil\, a soothing, I prepare my babies. We’re all panicking.
    Rebels mount in the story, naked, with just a few branches around the waist, machetes and weapons hand. They are crazy furious howl, kick to the passage and demand that men are descended. So I see out the window, all grouped men starting in the street. I realize that a woman follows a few metres. Without thinking more, I think that we will, we pass a bad quarter of an hour. I take my babies, I come down and I am men too. My husband turns and sees me arrive from afar. It slows down, I accelerate and it joined. Arrived at the end of the street, they do stop, talk loudly, still in a State of total anger. A deaf-mute known is there… a real terror. One of them gives the order to fire at point-blank range, everyone else folds. I have next to me my husband, one of the babies, the other is at my feet. That which
    is next to me screams and tries to go on all fours, I hold with all my strength so the Scrum and become a target. The shots go in all directions. I am touched, I immediately realize that this is serious, I almost can’t breathe, I have blood all over, I tell my husband to keep the children well. It really panic, straightens slightly, shouts to stop but is affected. A bullet in the head, died instantly. I realize on, I am distraught, trying to prevent the blood out of the small hole it has to the temple, I cry but nothing comes out, I can’t breathe. The shots to settle down, people yell, those who can will incur, but are immediately slaughtered because it remains rebels hidden in the greenery. Paratroopers arrive, someone takes me into the arms, I look and realize that it is Colonel Laurent, I know him very well, our eyes meet, he did not return home. It puts me in the House which is where, side, screwing the door with his foot, settle down, said a few kind words to me and leaves. After that a hole! I then find myself out of the small gallery of Larousse Congo. I have near me a chaplain, it gives me the last rites, I’m calm, I do not know where my children are or if they are alive, but I can’t respond, I don’t think that has them. A hole. I find myself in a pickup truck with another wounded and someone who has nothing, he accompanied us to the airport, I realize that pulled us on all sides. You arrive at the airport, I see my sister-in-law, Paule, injured arm, but standing, I tell her that Marco is dead, it reassures me, but I annoys me and says it that he is dead, that I know nothing about children. A hole. I find myself in a plane, on the ground, lots of noise, benches throughout. Madam Domasic is there, she told me that the children are there, that they have nothing. I hear once again that pulls on the aircraft. A hole. I find myself in an ambulance, blood out me through the mouth and nose. A hole. I am in a hospital room, my ribs, my sister-in-law, Mady, and my brother-in-law, Michel. I am lying on the belly, I breathe hard. It heals me locally thats all. Arrives the RTB to interview Mady and Michel. Nobody takes care of me. A hole. Here I am in a room, alone. The doctor says they’ll put me a drain, under local anesthesia. I remember it long, but it is my only chance at the moment. I suffer much, in glass, and I drain on the back!
    I was told that my mother is there, that I must at all costs remain calm, that all goes well. It must be said that my parents remained without any news for four months, perhaps more. That my father became mad with concern. They received a first telegram from Minister P – H Spaak, announcing them that my husband and I had been killed, and that the children had disappeared! Then, a new telegram saying that I was at the hospital Danish in Kinshasa, but between life and death. My mother immediately made necessary to get a visa and put children on her passport. Bujumbura, everyone knew what was happening, my mother was therefore highly assisted and was able to leave very quickly.
    I just found an article from the era, it is an extract from the daily Chronicle of a Belgian trader to Stanleyville:
    \Madame Marco Peneff was transported later, almost unconscious, and she made no movement. It seemed that she was dead, but I knew that not since she had told shortly before Michel Peneff \Dis to Poncelet to get coverage, I so cold..
    It is one of the hardest families. \
    I just got a letter from Daniel Hardy that I found recently. He also sends me a photocopy of the letter which his mother had received from the Embassy of Belgium in Leopoldville, in December 1964. Remember which I no longer remember but which moves me a lot. “I quote: \C’est through the testimony of R.P.Vereertbrugghen, parish priest of the Cathedral of Stanleyville, who knew very well the family Peneff, who housed your husband, that it could be identified with certainty.
    From the statements made by Ms. Marc Peneff-Zoll, hospitalized in Leopoldville to Stanleyville cure-Dean that he was visiting, is Mr Marc Peneff that would have etched the name Hardy on the watch of your husband.
    My mother is so arrived in my room, relaxed, smiling, as if she left me the day before… what courage, what strength, I thank him yet, although it is longer there. I regret that I do not quite telling him how much she got supported and helped. I do not quite told him how much I loved and admired him. The stories of the past were little next to what she has done for the children and I, along with the rest of my family, I included everyone.
    She has me so supported directly, morally in particular, saying that children were well.
    In fact, children were in two different families, and the problem was to find them. They were babies, no one knew who they were. The Embassy of Belgium and the relentlessness of my mother was pretty quickly found the first, for the second, it was more difficult. All this I learned well after.
    My mother was left with me the day, then left me to just take care of the rest. One night I was very thirsty. In the rooms, there are no bells, the people shouted to call, and also pain. It was very hard to hear that. Finally an African nurse brings me to drink. I drink without realising nothing, in fact it gave me of eau de Cologne! Now I understand, work, the stress of these people. An error is possible. At the time, I him in much wanted. Since my mother decided to stay the night also, she slept in a Chair. After several days, seeing that I wanted at the time, doctors have taken the risk to make me return to Belgium with a sanitary aircraft for major casualties. So we were on stretchers with attendants, in this case, for me my mother. The children were with us.
    We arrived in Brussels December 6, 64, it was dark. Everything was perfectly organised. Ambulances were there. I found myself in an ambulance, which was waiting for me my godmother. On the plane I was told that I was going to the Saint-Pierre hospital. The ambulance attendant brings me to Brugmann, I tell him that I refused to get off… I want to go to St. Peter. Everyone is busy and finally we left for Saint-Pierre, where, indeed, I find my mother, my father, my uncle and my godmother who accompanied me. It took all leave me, because I had to be careful on, radios etc. I got fortunate that Professor Dumont is occupied by me. He fought so that you don’t remove the lung, he felt that he had to wait. Removed me the drain behind for to put me a finer and before. Much better and more comfortable. I was
    connected to an artificial lung for a few days. And–oh miracle! -, my lung slowly resumed. After that, it was necessary to remove the ball, and before that, find. It was not easy to the spot.Finally it was underneath the arm. Local anesthesia also, I weighed 32 kg. !
    Ultimately, three sides split ball in the pleura, but I’m out. My two bits were, in the Home Queen Fabiola in La Hulpe. Quarantined at the beginning, germ paratyphoid, dysentery, malnutrition. My son, a bullet grazed him head, you could see the bone, but thats all! They remained there for about four months. My parents led me each day in La Hulpe, because even if I was suffering enormously back, I wanted to see my children. Subsequently, it took all rebuild, little by little, with a lot of grief, of nightmares. My children gave me the courage and strength to be.
    But all rebuilding is not easy!
    Fortunately MOM takes care of everything. We returned without any paper. It was in 1964, the Congo was independent.
    We lived Ixelles, MOM ran all over, had to prove that I was married, that children had a legitimate father, and even, as a first step, prove the death of Marco. This has quickly been worked, but for us, a true galley. Finally after months, it was decided that I should provide certificates on the honour of famous people. I still have several of these certificates. And ultimately children have been registered in the commune of Ixelles. That is why, since, when they need a birth certificate, it is in Ixelles that they receive even if they are not born.
    MOM worked six months for us, so that we have all our rights, nothing has been overlooked or forgotten. Thanks MOM, thanks again for us three!
    All, we had a \marraine\ to help us to return to us. For me, it was Mrs Detiège, branch of the Red Cross. This lady helped me a lot, especially when I started to work.
    I also had lots of help from the pharmacy Mertens. They have organized collections of all kinds.
    In 1965, I was convalescing. One day I decided to go alone to the cinema, which was avenue Louise, to see Lelouch \a man film and a femme\. I was \scotchee\ to my seat watching this movie and listening to this beautiful music. For the first time, I asked myself questions about my future. It was so loud that I stayed in the room to review it again.
    Whenever I hear the music, or the opportunity to review the film, I do miss and I think about \moi\ this day.

  98. Victor E Rosez says:


    Stanleyville in 1964.

    The story as I have lived, experienced, felt, very selfishly, I apologize.
    Before we’re taken to the Falls Hotel, we were already living in very difficult situations.
    The rebels came searching, without warning, at six or seven, including child soldiers. Brutal, scary, seeking weapons, food, often creating panic that we tried not to show. They overturned everything, emptied the fridge. A child soldier often the same, I recognized him, was arming his gun, pointing the gun at the temple of my babies. He looked at me, laughing.
    I knew I had to remain impassive, especially not making a move, little might have been enough to start the blow. After a few minutes, he withdrew his weapon, putting it back on safe and left with an enormous laugh. How to explain this fear, there are no words for! It happened several times. The rebels fired on Africans in the street, I didn’t know why. Africans must travel with a branch and shout \ maie, maie \*, otherwise they were slaughtered. There were three dead bodies in front of us, at the Peneff store. It was horrible, with the climate being the way it was, the smell became unbearable, while writing I have the impression still smelling it.
    At night there were shooting from all sides, we took refuge in the only hallway of the apartment. There were five adults and four children. No lights and always scared, always that fear! At the end of the corridor, there was a small bathroom with only a very small window. Despite this, we were really too highly scared to go to the toilet.
    For food, it was an emergency strategy. We had a boy who brought us small amounts of what he could find. When the atmosphere seemed a little bit quieter, our men went with the bike (all vehicles had been requisitioned) looking for food. Everything we could find was welcome.
    Mr. Hardy was with us. He had come with the last plane and had to hit the road with a car that was at our location. Everything had been agreed with my parents in Bujumbura. M.Hardy lived with his wife and 10 year old son Daniel, at Buja.
    So he stayed living like us these events for four months. Unfortunately, he died just as Marco did.
    Subsequently they came to get us with two vehicles. It had to be very fast, control of documents… I only had the time to take two bottles, two diapers and a baby on each hip. Marco, he took our documents with him. No time to think, or to ask questions.
    We arrived finally at the Falls Hotel, it was crowd, and we were there at the back, all sitting at a table. There, we saw that the rebels took off the veil of religious with violence. Mr. Nothomb intervened, but they beat him up. My daughter started screaming, they yelled to shut up…, to silence the baby! Threats etc. I had, at that time, a God whom was good to me, the little one fell silent. After a while, I do not know how they have decided it but our men would leave with the arrived trucks, they loaded the men and left. They made us go upstairs.

    * sorcerers words
    We realized that anything could happen to us. We took a room, the first one, just next to the stairs. There was Peneff Mady, her two little girls, another person, I do not know who anymore, both of my babies and me. There was no room for all on one double bed. I set myself up in a corner, a small pen for my babies, with a \blanket. zamu \blanket. I took another “zamu” blanket for myself. I slept on the floor next to my babies, fully dressed with my shoes and my glasses. Beside me, an empty bottle, in case I should defend myself! It was an illusion, I would never have been able to defend myself or defend my babies. Fortunately, nothing did happen to me. However, at night they returned and we shined with torches in full face. We heard screaming women in the rooms next door. We knew what was going on. We could not do anything. In the morning we were going to help them as good as we could I was paralyzed, I never let my babies alone, one on each hip constantly. There was a terrace all along, boarding each room. This allowed at ourselves still to get out of our hole. We also had a small terrace overlooking the outside. Later, on a night, I heard a gently knock on that door, I opened it and it was my boy, frightened but with a box of milk powder that and a few diapers. I would have kissed him. He took over my dirty diapers. He did this every time he had the opportunity, he brought what he found. Even now I often think of it and how I still thank him.
    The Greeks and the Portuguese brought us food but most of the time it was not enough for everyone. Like a wild beast I watched for them and I was with the first to have something for my children and me. It’s not highly honorable, but I thought only at ourselves, I felt tracked. We needed to eat to stay alive. With the milk powder that I mixed with the brown tap water that I filtered through some cotton wool.
    I thought avoiding pollutions passing through this way. I was mixing a sardine in it. I used to cut a little hole in the bottle teats. My son swallowed it he was hungry. My daughter did not want it. So I forced her with the spoon, I was desperate, she had to eat it. One day, they brought boxes of whole canned chicken, dating from the Korean War. They were swollen, no one dared to touch it. I managed to open a box with an awful smell. I turned everything into a bowl, it was gelatin. My children and I ate… I was called ‘junk’, but my instincts forced me to this. I had to keep a minimum strength for my children. I did not want to let go.
    Our men came back again only for a short time, under surveillance but alive, not allowed to talk but for both sides a little reassurance. Then began the war of nerves. The rebels told us that the next day they would shoot 9 of our husbands on the Lumumba Monument. Indeed, we heard nine shots. I did not move and they observed us. Unfortunately, some woman cracked and they were beaten. I was in the Congo for years and at Stan since 1955, I knew that in any case, I had to hide my feelings.
    I spoke Swahili, my children “mapassa”, “means twins” in Swahili, were born Stan. The first Europeans since independence. I am convinced that this has been the reason that we were not affected. But it was only afterwards that we analyzed this question.
    Four months of hunger, thirst, lack of sleep, panic and fear! An atmosphere of violence and brutality. We were no longer ourselves, we didn’t think anymore, we acted on instinct, we could, even myself, be aggressive for the sake of our children. It happened to me with someone who asked me to help him, but I should have let my children alone and I said no. This is a very hard way of living, it has nothing human anymore.
    On November 22, we were transferred to Victoria, we met our husbands again. We were reassured and happy. But nothing changed, on the contrary. The rebels were excited, drugged. We really didn’t have a security feeling. Always surrounded by an atmosphere of terror and fear.
    On the 24th, we woke up by the sound of planes, I looked out of my window and I saw the paratroopers! I say to myself it’s over, this is our death or our liberation. I grabbed full speed two bottles of milk, I took a tranquilizer, which was there, a Pertranquil. I prepared my babies. We all panicked. The rebels mount the floors, naked with just a few branches around the waist machetes and guns in hand. They are raving mad screaming give beatings on their passage and require that the men get downstairs. Through the window I saw, all the men gathered walking on the street. I notice a woman following on a few meters. Without thinking, I told myself now we’re going to have a bad time. I took my babies, I went down and I follow the men too. My husband turns and sees me coming from afar. He slowed down, I accelerated and we joined. Reaching the end of the street, they stopped us, talking loudly, still in a state of total anger. A dumb that we know is there too … a real terror. One of them gives the order to fire at close range, everyone goes down. I have next to me my husband, a baby, the other is at my feet, which is next to me starts screaming and is trying to go on all fours, I retain him with all my strength that it does not get out the crowd and becomes a target. Shots were fired in all directions. I am hit, I realize at once that it is serious, I can hardly breathe, I’ve got blood everywhere, and I tell my husband to keep the kids well. He really panics and stands up slightly, shouts to stop firing, but is hit too. A bullet in the head, he died instantly. I realize it immediately I am terrified, I try to stop the bleeding out of the small hole in the temple. I scream but no sound comes out, I can’t breathe. The shots calm down, people are screaming those who can start running but are immediately killed because there is still hidden rebels in the greenery. The paratroopers arrive, someone takes me in his arms, and I look to his face and realize that it is Colonel Laurent, I know him very well and our eyes met, he could not believe that it was me. He puts me in the nearest house there, after he bursts through the door with his boots, installs me on the ground, told me a few kind words and leaves. After that a black hole! I find myself a time laps later at the exit of the small gallery Larousse Congo. Beside me I see the military chaplain, giving me the last rites, I am calm, I do not know where my children are or if they are alive, but I cannot respond, they are haunting my mind. A black hole again. I find myself in a pickup truck with another injured and someone who has nothing, he accompanies us to the airport. I realize that they are shooting at us from all sides. We arrive at the airport, I see my sister in law. Paula, wounded in the arm but still standing, I said that Marco did died, she reassures me. I get angry and says to her that he is dead, I know nothing about my children. A black hole again. I’m in an aircraft on the ground, lots of noise, benches all along. Mrs. Domasic is there, she told me that the children are there and they have nothing. I hear again bullet impacts on the plane. A black hole again. I find myself in an ambulance, blood coming out of my mouth and nose. A black hole again. I’m in a hospital room with on my side my sister in law Mady, my brother in law Michael. I am lying on my belly, I can hardly breathe. They treat me only locally that’s all. RTB arrives to interview Michel and Mady. Nobody cares about me. A black hole again. Now I am in a room, alone. The doctor told me they will put a drain under local anesthesia. I’ll remember this for a long time but this is my only chance to survive at the moment. I suffer a lot, the drain of glass, and me on the back!
    I was told that my mother came, that I must at all costs remain calm and that everything was fine. I must say that my parents were left without any news for four months, maybe more. My father was going crazy because he was so worry. They received a telegram from Prime Minister PH Spaak, announcing that my husband and I had been killed, and that the children were gone! Then a telegram saying I was at the Danish hospital in Kinshasa between life and death. My mother immediately arranged for a visa and get the kids in her passport. In Bujumbura everyone knew what was happening, my mother has been helped very much by all and was able to leave very quickly.
    I just found an article dating from the days, it is an excerpt from the daily chronicle of a Belgian trader in Stanleyville:
    Mrs. Marco Peneff was transported afterwards almost unconscious, and she did not move at all. She looked like she was dead, but I knew that she wasn’t because she said shortly before to Michel Peneff: Tell Poncelet to give me a blanket, I’m so cold.
    This is one of the most affected families
    I just received a letter from Daniel Hardy who I met again a short time ago. He also sent me a photocopy of the letter his mother received from the Belgian Embassy of Leopoldville in December 1964. Facts that I cannot remember but that move me a lot. I quote: It is through the testimony of R.P.Vereertbrugghen, pastor of the Cathedral of Stanleyville, who knew very well the Peneff family, by who was staying your spouse, that he could be identified with certainty. ”
    According to statements made by Mrs. Marc Peneff-Zoll, hospitalized in Leopoldville, to the senior priest of Stanleyville and who visited her, it is Marc Peneff who would have engraved the name of Hardy on the watch of your husband
    My mother is arriving in my room, relaxed smiling, as if she had left me the day before… How brave and what a strength. I still thank her again, although she passed away. I regret of not having told her how enough how she supported and helped me I have not quite told her how much I loved and admired her. The stories of the past were little compared to what she did for me and the children and the rest of my family in which I include everyone.
    She has directly support me especially morally, by saying that the children were fine.
    In fact, the children were in two different families, and the problem was to find them. They were babies, no one knew who they were. Thanks to the Belgian Embassy and the tenacity of my mother we quickly found the first but for the second, it was more difficult. All this I learned much later.
    My mother stayed with me during the day and then left me, just deal with the rest. One night I was very thirsty. In the rooms, there were no bells, people shouted or to call, or also because of pain. It was very hard to listen to this chaos. Finally an African nurse gave me something to drink. I drank without realizing anything, in fact he gave me eau de Cologne! Now I understand the work and stress of these people. An error is possible. At the time, I was very angry with him. Since then my mother decided to stay at night too she was sleeping in a chair. After several days, seeing that I was holding the shot the doctors took the risk to send me back to Belgium with an air ambulance for serious injuries. So we were together on stretchers with an attendant, in this case for me and my mother. The children were with us. We arrived in Brussels on December 6, 64, it was dark. Everything was perfectly organized. The ambulances were there. I found myself in an ambulance, which was waiting for me together with my godmother. On the plane I was told I was going to St. Peter’s Hospital. The ambulance were taken me to Brugmann, I told him that I refuse to get off… I want to go to St. Peter. Everyone was arguing and ultimately we went to St. Peter’s, where, in fact, I found my mother, my father, my uncle and my godmother who accompanied me. It was necessary that all leave me because I had to be treated on radios etc. I was very fortunate that Professor Dumont was taking care of me. He struggled so hardly that I could keep my lung, his opinion was to wait and see first. They removed the drain behind and put a finer one and in front. Much better and more comfortable. I have been connected to an artificial lung for a few days. And – oh miracle! – My lung softly resumed. After that, we had to remove the bullet but before that, they had to find were the bullet was located, it has not been easy to spot .Finally it was below the arm. Local anesthesia! I weighed 32kg. ! Ultimately, three broken ribs a shot in the pleura, but I managed to recover. My two small bits were in the Queen Fabiola Home in La Hulpe. Quarantined at first because of germ of paratyphoid, dysentery and malnutrition. My son got a graze shot on a his head and you could see the bone, but luckily that was it, and finally nothing serious They stayed there for about four months. My parents took me every day in La Hulpe, because even I was in great pain of my back, I wanted to see my children. Thereafter, it took time to rebuild everything little by little, with great sadness and nightmares. My children gave me the courage and strength that I needed.
    But post-rebuilding is not easy!
    Fortunately mom takes care of everything. We returned without any paper. It was in 1964, the Congo was independent.
    We lived in Ixelles, mom ran everywhere, we had to prove that I was married, that the children had a legal father, and even, or first of all, to prove the death of Marco. This was quickly solved, but for us a traumatic pain.
    Finally after months, it was decided that I should provide certificates under oath by well-known people. I still have several of these certificates. And ultimately the children were registered at the municipality of Ixelles. Therefore since they need a birth certificate, it is at Ixelles they had to ask for it even if they are not born there.
    Mom worked six months for us, so that we have all our rights back, nothing has been overlooked or forgotten. Thank you mom, thank you again by the three of us!
    We all had an attendant to help us reintegrate. For me it was Mrs. Detiege Branch of the Red Cross. This lady helped me a lot, especially when I went back to work.
    I also had lots of help from Pharmacy Mertens. They organized collections of all kinds.
    In 1965, I was recovering. One day I decided to go alone in the cinema, which was Louise Avenue to see the film of Lelouch: A man and a woman. I stayed taped to my seat watching this movie and listening to this beautiful music. For the first time I asked myself questions about my future. It was so strong that I stayed in the cinema to see it again.
    Whenever I hear the music or the opportunity arises to see the film, I do not want to miss it, I look back on me that day.

    Michèle Timmermans-Zoll

    Traduction pas courtoisie et respect:
    Victor E Rosez

  99. Maryanne Goode says:

    My father John Edward Chess received medals for his partition in operation dragon rouge. If anyone remembers my father would you please contact me @ He passed in 2007 but would love to hear from anyone that knew him. He was in the U.S.Army. Thank you

  100. Maryanne Goode says:

    My father John Edward Chess was awarded a medal for his partition in operation dragon rouge. If anyone knew him would you please let me know. He passed in 2007 and would really appreciate it. Thank you

  101. Maryanne Goode says:

    You can contact me at

  102. maryanne chess goode says:

    Do you know John Edward Chess?

  103. […] For a military account of the rescue mission, click here.  […]

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  105. phpinfo() says:

    […] For a military account of the rescue mission, click here.  […]

  106. Patti Page says:

    Thank you for sharing this information. My late husband was on one of the C-130’s and flew out the bodies of the doctor and others. About a year before he passed away, a Belgian gentleman who was working there and was saved by the Americans contacted Norm, and took us out to dinner. He expressed appreciation for the actions of the U.S.A. How pleased my husband was!

  107. Joel Matt Juett says:

    Good reading. I worked missions in the ‘Congo’ at the time Zaire for CCT and SF forces in the mid 80’s. We operated out of Kinshasa, worked missions at Kamina Airbase and another airfield I can’t remember the name of in the mountain region.

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