I have been in war with lot of people, I mean I spent lot of hard time with folks who in that time I could call friends, or at least some kind of allies.
After that I lost contact with most of them, sometimes I heard something about someone, or see some of them, but real „buddy“ contact with people from that time and events is rare.
People who have not gone trough experiences like war probably imagine that there is something like annual meetings of old buddies who used to shoot together and kill other folks, and on that meetings there is huge barbecue and drinks…
And on that meetings we all like laugh and remember how hard it was and we are lucky that we are alive. Actually I was on some similar meetings, but it was everything but fun, so I stopped with that.
People there mostly look at each other and we all see how destroyed we are. I have met many broken people there and the question is has life screwed us or we screwed up in life. And at the end, we all drink, but without music, we just look in fire from barbecue, angry because of some triviality and asking why we are here.
Actually we do not have common topic to talk, after we spent time talking about all topics like weather or bad situation in country we know that sooner or later some of us will start with that „do you remember how S. got killed?“ or that famous „man we are lucky to be alive“.
But in reality we all know how S. get killed, nobody needs to ask „do you remember?“. Most of us think about how S. or M. or L. or whoever got killed every night at home, because many of us do not have families, most of us are unable to have normal lives with someone close to you anymore.
And when we come home later we drink alone, because people like us drink alone in most of the cases. Without false modesty, those of us who made it are best of the best from that time, real survivors, we survived everything because stupidity got punished very hard back then, usually with death. It still has burned much out of us.
People without purpose and aim. One of us work at parking lot. It is job that barely can keep him alive with minimum money for food only. No wife, no kids, no real friends, no possessions except maybe weapons hidden somewhere because you never know.
He was a lion once, man without fear for his life and without respect for enemy’s life. I asked him once how he feels when he is charging for parking ticket to the guy who is 25, drives brand new BMW with couple of pretty drugged girls, who earned that by being crooked politician and who looks at him like he is not even human, or worse like he is invisible, like there is ghost who charges for tickets.
He said “Oh man, I try not to look, it is life, and I am too old anyway to care”. He is 45. I think one day he will jump from 16 floor, or simply dig out his favorite TT gun and blow his brain out. One other guy is unemployed, officially unemployed, but he works whatever needs to be done. To say it shortly, when someone needs to scare someone, or harm someone he is guy for that.
He keeps telling me one story, actually it is his dream or wish more than a real story. He said:
Man, I am dreaming and wishing that one morning I wake up and there is a decision inside me, one of the old feelings that I carried through the war.
You know what would I do? I would go to my place with my stuff, take two pistols and rifle and as much ammo I could take. I would put on my old combat vest, lucky boots, put on my armband that we used for recognitions.
You know the government (local) building? I would go there, enter through the steel door, there are two security guys, I would use pistol on them, two shots in the head, for each of them. Guys are young and inexperienced, full of steroids and stories from the GYM. Big chests and arms, but small brains and balls.
After that I am wishing that I could somehow weld that steel door, with me inside of course, so no soul can go out, me neither, but maybe I just somehow block it, or use explosive there.
You know the put steel bars to the windows, those crooked bastards, to feel more safe, I would have them there where I want. And then, I would take off my rifle from the shoulder, and go slowly from the one office room to another. Everyone, every last greedy m$%#@#%ker of them would go down.
On some of the most important faces there I would use my knife, you know, faces that like to be on TV, like to take shots and interviews after doing some charities, or visiting schools and hugging the kids because good grades in front of the cameras, faces who earned their first million by selling baby food in war mixed with plaster, or taking someone’s wife for two pieces of canned meat.
I would like to go slowly with them, piece by piece. I think I would be pretty much done before special police squad would come to the place, remember I was pretty quickly done with some of the buildings we took during war.
After that I do not care what would happen, I think I would blow my brain out, or maybe I would take few police guys with me too. They are young and full of movie ideas. Dirty games are something that is strange for them, it would not be a problem.
Every time we end up by laughing about his dream. He is saying all of this like joke anyway more or less. But sometimes, I guess when he is feeling down too much or when he sees who is in charge today ruling over us or simply when memories got to him too much I see something in his eyes and that is no joke.
For all this that I wrote here, people have name, they label it with words PTSD. But real point is that once violence enters your life, once it becomes part of you, you belong to that violence. To the rest of the life. In the famous US series Dexter he calls this “his dark passenger” and this dark side will stay with you.
Nothing romantic about it. And every time when I see on TV or wherever some anniversaries of military events, and when I see those guys under the banners and old flags, no matter what country and what war they have same expression on their face.
The hand shake with politicians, take pictures with them, kids take photos with them, they calling them heroes and liberators and what else. It might be truth, but means nothing probably to them.
But when politicians go away with their limousines and security, and when newspapers guy, and TV crews leave with their stories, those guys stay alone with their thoughts and memories until next year when they get another pat on the back.
Two main lessons here.
First is that violence like it is glorified in action movies, games and sometimes media should not be taken easy. If you might look at your weapons at home you see them as that and pictures of shooting come up in your mind. If people who fought do this picture of bullet impacts on human body come up.
The smell of people dying, the sound of last breaths, the mess someone leaves behind. Every time you use violence the dark passenger in you grows and it will not leave, it is part of you. So if SHTF and this website and everything else is long gone maybe you remember this and tell yourself and people around you that all this comes with cost.
Second lesson here is that you should think about time after collapse. I have friends in US army and I know some of the veteran services are bad but at least they are there. I read in history book that soldiers in earlier wars had less PTSD because they travelled together for longer time from area of conflict. If you lead a group of survivors during SHTF think about giving them rest, think about sort of debriefing time.
Please share your experience with traumatic events and how to deal with them in comments below or our community forum.
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„The Zastava M-70 is an assault rifle developed and produced in Yugoslavia, nowadays Kragujevac, Serbia by Zastava Arms company. The design of the M-70 was based on modified Soviet AK-47 and AKM assault rifles and it became the standard issue weapon in the Yugoslav People’s Army in 1970. The M-70 is an air-cooled, magazine-fed, selective fire rifle. This weapon is also available as a modern sporting rifle in the US without select fire capabilities.“
This above sounds like someone is trying to say something interesting, but he failed in that. It is simply dry facts about something that meant lot for us in those times, thing that saved many lives, and took many too.
Of course nobody calls it M70, type A, B or whatever type there was. Not too many people call it AK, few call it Kalashnikov, or simply shorter and more familiar name:“Kalash“. Like we were talking about kids nickname or your favourite uncles name.
Favourite name was „gipsy woman“ or „gipsy lady“.
In the beginning of the war, all kind of weapons were in use. Some of those artefacts were used more to instil fear in enemy then to harm someone.
So in one period it was normal to see guy with his grandpa hunting rifle, two belts of bullets for bird hunting on his waist, and even green hat on his head with bird feather on it.
He was looking more like he is going to some party with barbecue and lot of alcohol where he is going to sing a lot and fire few bullets in the air while singing songs than like someone who is shooting people.
And of course all kinds of weapons were pouring in through illegal channels. Most of that was simply junk that some warlords from some other country were trying to get rid of in country where war just started and everyone wants some kind of weapon.
Whenever someone asks me did I see some weapon or use it in war, I said yea, I saw and did. But most were bad weapons.
So you could see lot of weapons that were „strange“ to this region. Some of those items fell apart after first hundred of rounds. Sometimes killing the newborn warrior who finally had this first weapon.
Also there were events where some grandpas digged out old German MP gun, taken some 45 years ago from German soldiers and carefully hidden somewhere under meters of earth because „you know we live in Balkan and you never know“.
So in one period it was confused mix of all kind of small weapons usually too old and in very bad shape and used by people who are not so familiar with weapons. Accidents happened daily.
It was like some futuristic computer game where you could see fighter jets bombing area and at the same time guy with 100 years old rifle trying to shoot that plane.
But pretty soon after that, after the army barracks were taken, and I guess better warlords jumped in on the trade, „gipsy woman“ took over.
For ordinary folks it was rifle that somehow was easy to get into, it was easy to use, and easy to handle. Some of the reasons why AK 47 has become so popular everywhere in the world.
Most of the folks did not take care of it too much. I mean even if it was cleaned it was not cleaned in proper way and with proper equipment. And yes it was mistreated, dirty, left in dust or rain, kicked, fell on ground many times and thrown away when we were jumping for cover.
Do not misunderstand me, it was not something that created instant warriors, but it was the perfect rifle for that time and people who used it.
There were mant accidents and stupid events, like a guy who had adrenaline rush and forgot that he needed to switch safety so he tried and tried to shoot, but nothing. At the end he beat the other man with rifle like he was holding a baseball bat and not a rifle, luckily the other guy was confused more than him so this worked.
People made lots of mistakes in that time. Knowledge about weapons and knowledge about fighting was very low, so that was another reason why folks loved that rifle. Easy to handle and easy to kill.
Real event from that time was that after one group broke in military storage they took cases with rifles, but nobody touched guided anti tank missiles. At that moment nobody had a clue how they worked. Too heavy to carry and rifles had real value. Another urban legend is that some folks tried to fire one of the rockets but they failed to understand how to operate the small joystick so they blew themselves and their buddies up.
Later I lay my hands and used for some time „other“ favourite weapon that folks like compare with popularity of AK. My first impression was „oh man, this is so nice, easy and cute“ but again, maybe I am stubborn, I prefferer AK.
It is about me only maybe, it is simply a heavy duty tool for me. Tool that is reliable and can make you being violent more effective.
There are endless discussion which one is better, and endless list of arguments, and many people spend more time reading weapon magazines than preparing or learning new skills for survival. Again I keep saying it is not about which one is better.
It is which one is better for you, for your region, your size, your knowledge but like with all survival equipment make sure it is weapon that can take a beating. Just like with camping equipment today there are very light tents that are very high tech but they are not good for real survival scenarios when we talk about maybe months of use.
The next step is thinking about how to fix your weapon. Again just like a good tent can be fixed with normal stuff, you should be able to fix your weapon if you have to.
Today situation is different than 20 years ago, world is getting smaller, it is easier to get your hands on weapons that you like and at least promise to make you so much more dangerous for enemies. That’s better, we all can see or try many different types or weapon, we can actually feel how it works before we obtain it at shooting ranges.
Think about your weapon not in perfect time and surroundings, try to imagine yourself in your worst moments of your life. You are cold, hungry, in pain or fear, when your kid is home sick without medication and you feel like some very heavy weight is pressing down on you from all the pressure. Standing up to this sort of challenge is what makes survival hard and lets strong people survive. So it will not be weapon only and if you choose your weapon make sure it is something that you can still operate in the worst mental, physical and maybe also natural conditions. At times when you are almost too exhausted to walk but you know you have to.
What is your go to weapon for SHTF and why? Please share in comments or on our community forum.
When I was young and under the influence of movies and books about fighting, war and dying somehow I adopted views that death and dying is something unavoidable and it is mostly noble and clean, and have some kind of cause and reason.
Soon I realized that truth is quite different, and mostly there is nothing clean about it.
People like to think that death in combat is something like they see on movies because it makes sense, it gives you some kind of comfort. I have seen death and dying many times, both in combat and in bed at peoples home when working in emergency services, and I can count on one hand when it looked clean and “noble”.
Buddy next to you who get few bullets in stomach will usually scream a lot, smell a lot, and you gonna catch yourself thinking „is he already dead? I can not stand this…“ and in the same time theres gonna be one more thought, prevailing, it is „thanks God it is him, not me, lying, screaming and dying…“ and later you might feel guilty for thinking this way…
Dying people will call their moms, sons, wives… will hold to you with their hands like death is trying to drag them, like you can save them, sometimes they will stare „through“ you, like they already see something that is not from this world…
Sometimes you gonna see something like blame in their eyes, this time they are aware that they are dying, and they want to switch places with you. Why can this guy stay and I have to go now? How unfair and cruel is this. This can not be real.
When SHTF be prepared that people will die around you, and it probably will look very different from picture that you have in your mind now. And also be prepared that looking at those deaths will change you on many levels, will affect you. I have seen people that were changed in bad ways, also I have seen people changed in good ways.
But it will change you.
As I said, I have seen many deaths, and most of those deaths were violent, I speak about this in my course. All that makes me more cynical, but every time when I caught myself being too cynical I remember my motto that „generalizing things is not good“ so I remember the man, my good friend who died some 5 years ago.
He died in hospital, throat cancer. It was bad, and it was very painful. And what was worse it was very slow. He was „melting“ in front of my eyes, for weeks, at the end all what was left were skin, bones and his eyes.
I remembered those eyes from the days of war and chaos, he was strong man, a lion, people had a picture of him that he is powerful and ruthless. He was inspiration for many to fight on. And they were right. He was dangerous and fearless. But what they did not know was fact that he hide and save whole bunch of people from different enemy „group“. He did not do that for money, gold or anything else.
He saved them from death and private prisons, and get them to the safety. In that time he could easily lost his life for doing that. Only condition was that those people keep their mouth shut about who helped them. And they did mostly. After everything rumors were there, but nobody believed them.
Anyway times changed, he lost his power after the war, and later his health too. Times came when he could use fact that he save those folks, in order to gain money or power or similar.
But he did not do that, I know him before war, during the war, and after the war, I helped him once in smuggling few those guys to safety.
He did not use that. He was very poor when they found his cancer, he died as a poor man. Only few people were with him when he died, including me.
And I think it is one of the rare occasions when I saw that some man is very aware that he is dying, and still he is very calm, very peaceful. He always believed in God, in Jesus Christ, so it gave him peace I guess, but I like to think that being good man gave him peace. He save those folks because he was man like that, good man. He also knew what to expect from death. We, survivors of this time, have seen it too often to live under any illusion.
As I said, my faith in people is not strong at all, but whenever I lost it too much I remember him and thought that come to my mind is that even in hardest times you can find good people, even in strangest places. It does not mean to trust people, you should not. But in big crowd of naive sheep there are few exceptions. Look closely how people deal with stressful situation around you. Look who believes in what Hollywood tells them is reality and avoid these people.
Reality of death and dying will change them and it is hard to guess to what. Reality and our idea of life and death is often very different and this can result in shock when you look at ugly side of death. Shock paralyzes and scars souls.
I know this message is lost on many people who like to flip open weapon magazine and shop for new toys instead of learning about ugly side of life. Getting comfortable with death and how ugly, smelly, dirty and not noble it is, is essential for survivalist to still make right decisions and actions when it matters.
What are your thoughts on death and dying? Any personal experiences that helped you to become peaceful with it? Please share in comments or on forum.