Aryan Skynet

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A Poetic Interlude in the Congo

Details of the CIA’s covert warfare in the Congo during the mid-1960s were revealed for the first time earlier this year when James M. Hawes published his memoir Cold War Navy SEAL: My Story of Che Guevara, War in the Congo, and the Communist Threat in Africa. The book is non-essential reading for all but African Cold War completists and is noteworthy primarily for its memorable portrait of an erratic mercenary, Samuel “Jock” Cassidy, who served under the infamous “Mad” Mike Hoare. One passage from Cold War Navy SEAL, however, struck me as having a probably unintentional poetic resonance. I submit it without further comment for readers’ enjoyment:

While I was learning covert ops on the job in Vietnam, the Cold War was heating up in Africa. What preceded my arrival in the Congo was an extraordinary effort that included the talents of an American operator, Jordy McKay. He did everything he was supposed to do, and more.

Cold War Navy SEAL

An okay read for the Africa buff

As a one-man show, McKay was in the Congo to work with 5 Commando and he made up the entirety of the US clandestine, maritime, paramilitary team. The Agency had sent him there before they sent me, and no contribution was more vital to mission success than McKay’s. But through an event in the middle of a crucial battle, McKay made a judgment and acted on it – and it was exactly the wrong decision, according to the State Department. […]

The maritime interdiction operations McKay was running would be a prelude to my assignment to establish the Force Navale Congolaise. There was sketchy intelligence percolating from the area that indicated that the Chinese were heavily involved and the US wanted to prevent Communist China (PRC) from freely transporting weapons up the lake [Tanganyika] to the pro-communist Simba Rebels operating in the northeast. […]

Fizi Baraka, the quasi-headquarters for this sloppy but lethal group, lay on the northwestern part of Lake Tanganyika near the border of the provinces of Northern Katanga and South Kivu. It became McKay’s target; the battle would mark the beginning of the end for the Simbas, or so it was thought. It was supposed to cripple the rebel movement by engaging and defeating their main force.

But that was a very loose interpretation of the uniformity of the rebels’ structure. The rebel command was an equal opportunity, dysfunctional group. Numerous factions played off one another at the whim of the individuals’ leaders and tribal loyalties. Disorganization nearly put them out of business altogether except as traditional bandit groups, raping and pillaging with no political motivations or objectives. As the mission proceeded and I arrived, it would become clear that eliminating one group would not necessarily have a bearing on others.

But on that summer night, McKay and LCol “Mad” Mike Hoare’s 5 Commando mercenaries were about to bring the fight to the rebels’ doorstep. They would do it in spectacular fashion. […]

5 Commando would travel with a small armada of vessels and barges 150 miles up Lake Tanganyika from Albertville. They’d make an assault from the lake, cross the beach to the rebel’s main stronghold, and then advance overland and clear the road to Fizi. Hoare’s plan would contain the enemy in a semi-circle, at the center of which was Jungo, a port town that held rebel-training headquarters. […]


Lake Tanganyika appears in blue, with Fizi and Albertville highlighted in yellow.

When the force departed Albertville that night, Hoare believed Simba scouts might have spotted them, alerting the rebels that the invasion was underway. The Simbas could roam freely and undetected throughout Albertville, so McKay and Hoare suspected there was a high probability that their mission had been compromised.

At 0200, just before H-Hour, tropical lightning shattered the sky and lit up the flotilla in flashes as stark as daylight. LCol Hoare was convinced that the enemy had seen them and he called a unit commander’s meeting aboard his flagship, the Urundi. There he announced that he was aborting the mission.

McKay protested immediately. He was certain they could still be effective even if the enemy suspected their arrival. After a tense back and forth, McKay convinced Hoare that the enemy had no specific information on intention and definitely couldn’t know their landing spot, which meant they still held the element of surprise. Then, he was able to make his most important case: that an operation of this scope and complexity could not be remounted in the near future. Reluctantly, Hoare agreed to proceed.


“Mad” Mike Hoare

During the assault McKay would make a significant difference in the war, albeit by making a conscious decision that would contravene CIA instructions. He wasn’t supposed to be in the fight. The State Department wanted no US fingerprints on the operation, and plausible deniability was the purpose behind using 5 Commando boat crews. If a mercenary were killed in the Congo, so be it. But if an American turned up shot and dead there, particularly ex-Navy personnel, it would be much more difficult to ignore and whitewash away. […]

As dawn broke the first boats landed. In his book, Hoare tells of a “beach party” paddling a small assault boat through large waves, each successive one lifting the boat to a crest and then dropping it into a trough. Some of the men were violently seasick, vomiting between each stroke of the paddle. […]

The troops surged onto the beach, coming twelve at a time, emerging from the Seacraft-21s with McKay on the Ermans commanding all aspects of the amphibious phase. The barges came into shore and homemade ramps deployed perfectly, settling into shallow water and allowing the vehicles to make a relatively dry landing.

The enemy was taken by surprise by the speed and force of the attack, and Hoare and his troops soon established a significant beachhead. But then the snap of small arms fire could be heard in the distance, and heavy fire came ranging from deeper inside the brush.

Hoare tried to take his men forward and off the beach but enemy reinforcements appeared. Amid an increasing barrage of heavy fire, the rebel resistance stiffened and they mounted a surprisingly strong defense with accurate use of weapons. As 5 Commando forces took casualties, they became bogged down. Around H-Hour+3, the attack started to stall.1

Here comes my favorite part:

By this time the landed troops were critically short on ammunition. Hoare was dug in and tried to radio for fire support. From their position on the beach, the 5 Commando troops saw a small church on the left flank of the landing zone. Shrouded in vines and scrubs with a peaked wooden steeple, it soon became obvious that a well-trained pair of gunners was shooting from the steeple. With an unobstructed view of the beach, the snipers kept Hoare and his men pinned down by accurate fire.


A Simba Rebel takes aim

McKay went to the captain of the Ermans, a 5 Commando mercenary under Hoare’s command, and asked him to bring the boat around and to also get someone on the 75mm recoilless perched on the stern. But there was no response. McKay, face to face and under fire in the middle of battle, stared at a frozen captain who had gone gun-shy.

Without hesitation McKay took control of the ship himself. He ordered the helmsman to steer the Ermans parallel to the beach until they were approximately 150 meters off shore and only 250 meters from the machine gun nest. McKay called for a dead-slow course with the engines stopped and the Ermans began taking direct enemy fire. McKay ran to the aft deck and got on the giant 75mm weapon.

He had bore-sighted and tested the rifle the day before so he could fire with accuracy. He loaded the recoilless, took aim, and fired the powerful weapon at the steeple where the hidden gunners continued to pin down the landing troops. His first shot was a bullseye. The heavy rounds of the recoilless struck the machine gun nest with a force that demolished the steeple. Two bodies were flung into the air like a pair of rag dolls as the nest was splintered and blown apart. The gunners were silenced.

An eerie calm descended on the beach as the harassing machine guns stopped. Almost immediately the rebels began to retreat and gunfire faded slowly as they ducked away. But that would not be the end of the Simba Rebels. They would regroup and live to fight another day.2

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Rainer is the author of Protocols of the Elders of Zanuck: Psychological Warfare and Filth at the Movies – the DEFINITIVE Alt-Right statement on Hollywood!


  1. Hawes, James M.; and Mary Ann Koenig. Cold War Navy SEAL: My Story of Che Guevara, War in the Congo, and the Communist Threat in Africa. New York, NY: Skyhorse Publishing, 2018, pp. 19-25.
  2. Ibid., pp. 25-26.

About icareviews

Author, Protocols of the Elders of Zanuck: Psychological Warfare and Filth at the Movies

11 comments on “A Poetic Interlude in the Congo

  1. icareviews
    December 28, 2018

    Reblogged this on icareviews and commented:

    This was one of only a small handful of newly published books that I read in 2018, so a best-of-the-year list is hardly in order. What were the best books you read this year? Any recommendations?


    • bob saffron
      January 11, 2019

      I recommend James C. Scott’s The Art of Not Being Governed: An Anarchist History of Upland Southeast Asia. The “uncivilized” hill peoples of Southeast Asia offer many insights into our present predicament. Definitely far broader appeal than the title suggests. To wit:

      Liked by 1 person

      • bob saffron
        January 11, 2019

        As an aside, I read No Country for Old Men, and was pleased and surprised to find the film shadowed the book very closely and successfully. American Psycho convinced me that Brett Easton Ellis is an author whose literary works are overshadowed by the film versions.

        Liked by 1 person

    • bob saffron
      January 12, 2019

      Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment I read for the first time, I’m ashamed to admit.

      Liked by 1 person

      • bob saffron
        January 12, 2019

        Excellent, of course.

        Liked by 1 person

      • icareviews
        January 12, 2019

        I read it a couple of times as a young guy, in high school and in college. I remember thinking the anti-Semitic passages in Dostoevsky’s writings were funny, but I wasn’t the least bit “woke” back then and just wrote it off as some oddball Russian eccentricity of Dostoevsky’s. His books, I’m sure, will feel new and fresh when I get around to reading him again, the same way so many movies take on different meanings for me now.


      • bob saffron
        January 12, 2019

        Also, The Master and Margarita by Bulgakov. Recommended.

        Liked by 1 person

      • bob saffron
        January 12, 2019

        I didn’t find it anti-Semitic per se. More the greed and ruthlessness of Aloyna Ivanovna that is ostensibly loathed by Raskolnikov. What was interesting was the shabby treatment meted out to by the usurer to her half-sister Lizaveta and her warm, childlike and yielding nature. I immediately suspected that Lizaveta, gentile, exploited by the Jew sister. It’s not mentioned whether they share a common father or mother – I’m guessing Dostoevsky had to work in plausible deniability.


      • icareviews
        January 12, 2019

        In Crime and Punishment, Dostoevsky describes the sour look on the face of one Jew as being “imprinted without exception on all the faces of the Hebrew tribe.” There are also Jew-critical and stereotypical remarks in A Raw Youth and others of his writings.


  2. Boopedybop
    January 1, 2019

    I’m a simple man.

    I see “Gun Jesus” and I like and comment.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: A Poetic Interlude in the Congo | Hipster Racist

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