Vince Crawley's Africa Blog

Remembering the 1995-’96 Govt Shutdown in Bosnia

Posted in Uncategorized by Vince Crawley on October 15, 2013

The last government shutdown, in December 1995 and January 1996, I was a Stars and Stripes reporter in Bosnia, so the political turmoil was just a distant murmur as I drove up from our rented apartment/office in Tuzla every day to see if U.S. troops had yet succeeded in crossing to my side of the Sava River at Zupanje-Orasje amid horrendous floods followed by an intense freeze. For individuals, crossing the river could be accomplished by hopping aboard a local ferry. But 1st Armored Division, deploying down from Germany to enforce the newly signed Dayton Peace Accords, required the assembly of a remarkable 2,000-foot floating pontoon bridge able to carry across Abrams tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles. The original highway bridge had been destroyed during the 1992-’95 Bosnian war that claimed more than 100,000 lives.

 A few scout vehicles crossed by raft in the days after Christmas. The Army engineers connected the bridge the afternoon of New Year’s Eve, and 1st Armored Division started crossing. A day before, a military police Humvee on reconnaissance ran over a landmine near the bridge site, and Spec. Martin Begosh lost part of his foot. So we weren’t paying a lot of attention to the government shutdown, though I remember seeing a lot of Newt Gingrich and President Clinton on the CNN satellite channel late at night after we’d finished filing our stories.

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