“I was one of 32 Australian soldiers in the area. We were facing more than 2000 RPA soldiers. We were good, but not that good. The numbers were heavily in their favour. I was worried but I wasn’t scared. All I had where questions. How the hell had a medical mercy mission ended in such a horrific tragedy? How had it been allowed to even get to this? Why were we not allowed to fire our weapons, to defend these poor refugees? God, I thought, I hope we live through this day. And if we do, I tell you what, won’t I have a story to tell.” – Terry Pickard
On the 22nd of April 1995 more than 4,000 Rwandans were massacred and thousands more injured in a place called Kibeho. Terry Pickard, a seasoned soldier and medic, was one of a 32-strong force of Australian UN peacekeepers in Kibeho on that terrible Saturday. While the United Nations’ presence prevented the death toll from being even worse than it was, the massacre continues to haunt him.
The rules of engagement that stopped him from intervening in the senseless slaughter and the life and death decisions he was forced to make when dealing with the injured condemned him to more than a decade of recurring nightmares and debilitating flashbacks.
The horror and unimaginable tragedy of the Kibeho Massacre still looms large in the lives of Rwandans and the people sent to help the African country. No one who walked away from that day was ever the same again.
Combat Medic is a personal account of one Australian soldier who found himself at the centre of events that shocked the world, and the personal toll that he paid. Terry Pickard’s army career spanned nearly 20 years. More than 25 years after Rwanda he continues to struggle with post traumatic stress triggered by his experiences.