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Angola and the Tank

We were assigned to Angola. We mainly went there to see what the Cuban fighters were like. The Cubans were fighting in Angola on the side of Angolan insurgents. We were sent over there to teach them ambushing and other tactics. The Lieutenant we were with said every day or so this tank would ride to the overlook, which was probably a thousand meters up, and fire two or three rounds into the village there, and then it would just back up and leave. So, we decided that would be our ambush training. We decided that is what we will do: we will ambush that tank.

We took off with 12 men from our team and 12 men from their team, all of us carrying LAWS Rockets. We got up there and set up an L-shaped ambush waiting for that tank. It was a T55 Russian Tank. When it came down the road, just like they said it would, we fired our LAWS Rockets at it. Everything just bounced off and went up in the air; nothing happened to the tank. The tank kept coming. We all scattered like a bunch of rats getting off a sinking boat. We scattered in different directions in an effort to return to one of our rally points. I ran off with four others. The tank decided we were the ones it would chase. So, we’re running through the woods laughing—for some reason we thought this was hilarious. One guy yelled, “We didn’t even knock a tread off!”

We could hear the tank behind us revving its motor as it knocked down trees, bushes, and other things. It would back up, ram a tree, and then back up and ram it again — it was funny to watch. We kept running until finally we came to this embankment, thinking, Oh crap! Where do we go now?

Looking over the side, it appeared to be about a six- or eight-foot drop to the bottom where there was a path. So, we crawled over the side, dropped onto the path, and stood up against the wall of this mountain. The tank was still coming, and I think to myself, If it falls over the edge, it’s going to crush us.

We looked up and saw the tank barrel sticking over the ledge. The tank sat there for a few minutes and fired three rounds at the village. After it fired, it backed up and left.

The Lieutenant we were with said, “So, is that how you destroy tanks?”

We answered, “Well, no. The purpose is to get the tank to chase you into the woods until it runs out of fuel. Then we can get them. But, I guess we didn’t run far enough because it never ran out of fuel.”

I think the poor guy actually believed me.

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