This was a really special friend. The coolest dude. He smoked more cigarettes out of my packet than I did. It was a pleasure and he gave me a whole packet the day before his passing. He took all our guard duties the night before that fateful day. It was as if he knew. We had suffered together for many gruelling months during our training and became very good friends. We had a lot of fun in De Brug, Lohatla, Messina and Border camps.
Operation Sceptic, Smokeshell was where we encountered an unfortunate sequence of events leading up to this disaster. Robert died instantly as he jumped out of the top of the ratel. The compressed air tanks to open the doors had exploded and the only exit was through the top hatches. As he exposed to the top he was severed in two by anti-aircraft rounds where I was first to find him. Andrew and Frank got shrapnel inside and died later. Mike died also as he jumped out the top.
Robert was not alone here, he was with close friends. He was a comrade I was proud to be alongside in such an intense battle.
My brave friend and a gallant soldier, Robert de Vito, died june 10th 1980 50km into Angola fighting SWAPO and MPLA.
Miss you Rob.