Gunship Over Angola : The Story of a Maverick Pilot

  • Anri Delport Stellenbosch University

Abstract

“Most war storiesâ€, according to Hynes, “begin with a nobody-in-particular
young man, who lives through the experience of war, to emerge at the end defined
by what has happened to him.â€443 One such “nobody-in-particular young man†was
national serviceman 74257684BC Private Stephen Pierre Joubert, born on 3 July 1958
in Chingola, then Northern Rhodesia.444 Since the age of five, he and his family lived
in Pretoria. He had a typical childhood in most respects.445 Barely seventeen years
old, he, like many other young men, reported for national service. One year later,
in 1977, he stood in a “perfectly pressed†uniform with “buttons and badges [that]
sparkled like diamonds†in a large room in a nondescript building at the South African
Airforce (SAAF) Gymnasium in Valhalla, Pretoria.446 Facing him was an intimidating,
expressionless collection of brass seated in a semicircle. It was Joubert’s second Pilot
Selection Board interview for the Pupil Pilot’s Course. Among the brass was the
legendary aviator, World War II and Korean War veteran, then chief of the SAAF,
General Bob Rogers. The general asked the first question, “[h]ow long have you wanted
to be a pilot?†Joubert responded, “[s]ince I stopped wanting to be an ice cream seller,
sir!â€447 Two years later, “on an early November dayâ€, 21-year-old Joubert with wings
pinned to his chest stepped onto AFB Ondangwa in South West Africa, now called
Namibia.448 The events that followed changed him forever. It was as Hynes notes, “out
of that nobody, war has forged a selfâ€.

Published
2021-05-21
How to Cite
Delport, A. (2021). Gunship Over Angola : The Story of a Maverick Pilot. Scientia Militaria - South African Journal of Military Studies, 49(1), 127-132. https://doi.org/10.5787/49-1-1323
Section
Book Reviews