I was watching the eight o’clock news with my parents, it was 1986 and I was 11 years old. The reporter had an announcement to make, ‘Secret Special Forces Unit in the Netherlands’ and with that announcement a short clip was shown. It showed a field with some trees, a typical Dutch landscape, but all of sudden a lid popped open out of the ground, 4 guys jumped out with blackened faces, Uzis at the ready, and ran off into the forest. I was glued to the television and thought to myself, this is what I want to be. It made a huge impression on me what I saw that night, and it would influence the rest of my life. The unit I saw that night was the Korps Commando Troepen

Korps Commando Troepen

TRAINEE DURING THE ECO ELEMENTAIRE COMMANDO OPLEIDING

A goal was set, a dream was born and I was determined to make my dream come true..

And with some bends in the road, after finishing school (just), I was ready to join the Army at the age of 17.

NO! said my mother, you’re not going to the army, you are too young, you will have to learn a profession first, because the Army is not a real job. OK, back to the drawing board, what now? Second best option on my short list, become a lumberjack. So back to school.. what?? For being a lumberjack? Well that lasted for one year, and even my mother must have seen that this was a near to impossible task. So, I dropped out of school and started working in a forestry company, cutting down trees for a living. After about 6 months of working there, the boss came up to me and said, ‘You can take over this business, one day’, mind you, this was a two-man operation.. Him and Me :), well I did work with him for a few years, and liked the work, but I wanted more, so I quit.

AROUND 1995

My parents where opening up a bar at that time, so we joined forces and made another dream come true, that place still runs great today: Grand Cafe Public but again, can you feel it coming? Yes, I quit. Why? Because I wanted to chase my dream, I wanted to become a Commando and I was afraid that if I didn’t do it now, I might be regretting it for the rest of my life, so I decided to Get After It for real this time.

PHOTO CREDIT: DUTCH DEFENSE PRESS

So, this time I informed my mother that I was going to join the Commandos (I was a big boy now, or at least, that’s what I thought) she tried to get me to join the Marines and said that they looked smarter than those Commando types 🙂 I guess that even back then the Marines had better marketing, but it didn’t matter, I was not a big fan of (cold) water and most important, the Marines weren’t being dropped behind enemy lines (sorry if you are an Marine).

I went to the local recruiting office, walked in and said, I want to join the Commandos, where can I sign up? In that office where about 5 staff members, and they all came out to see who this person was, who was apparently crazy enough to sign up for this sh*t voluntarily.. ‘are you sure’ the recruiter said, ‘it is really hard to make it to the Commandos’, ‘we have a new unit, that would be great for you, it is called Air Mobile Brigade’. No thanks, I said, it will have to be the Commandos, or nothing.

First me, and a room full of other wannabee soldiers got a general briefing about joining the Army, after that they started calling out different unit names and they would lead you to a room to watch a promo from that unit. All kinds of units were named, and everybody put up his arm, ‘yes, I want to see that promo’ until he came to the Commandos, ‘who wants to go to the Commandos’ the guy said.. just one hand went up, mine.

MEDICAL EXAMINATION WENT FINE

November 1998, I was ready to go. I shaved my head, because I thought that they were going to do that anyway(don’t forget.. no internet back in the day). I said to my mother, I will see you in 6 months and went to the train station. Standing on the platform I looked to my right and see a guy, I look a bit closer, it’s Robin, I know this guy, because we played rugby together a few times. I say, ‘hey, where are you going’, the Commandos he says… well i’ll be damned!

My Lessons Learned:

  • Follow your intuition on that first dream, don’t wait to long, you might regret it in the future.
  • Don’t let other people decide for you where you want to go -I mean the staff guy, who tried to alter my decision-

To be continued….

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Mark

*Thank you for reading, subscribe and stay up to date! This article is shared with the consent of the original author. It was originally published on Arminiustribe.com by Mark van Riele. IG  and FB

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About The Author

Mark served in the Dutch Army Special Forces unit “Korps Commando Troepen”, And he served in different units ranging from Diplomatic close protection to contractor work. He has his own blog called @arminius_tribe on Instagram

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