The night I shot my mate and why it was the best thing I ever did

  • By Dave Okeby
  • 11 Dec, 2015
22A East Timor May - November 2002

How this influenced me the next time I had my finger on the trigger

I've never told this story like this before. In fact in the last 13 years I've only shared it a couple of times.

It was a dark night. The kind of dark that was so black you couldn't see your hand if you held it up to your face. The year was 2002 and I had been in the Army just under 12 months. I was not even 21. I was on Stag duty (my turn to watch over whilst everyone else sleeps). My mate Muffin was on next to me. As an idea of how it works: you have 3 teams scattered around watching your arse whilst everyone else rests. You do not talk because noise travels further at night due to the changing layers of our atmosphere from Day to Night, which means the enemy could hear you and you wouldn't know it until it's too late. This also extends to making any noise whether intentional or unintentional. You've got to be quiet.

It must of been over half way through my shift when I/we started to hear muffling noises coming from nearby. It went on and off for a couple of minutes. During this time we quietly discussed what it could be, and if the enemy were on our doorstep planning an attack, what we would do. Before I go on, remember this is a training scenario but to the highest degree of realism. 

We went through and tried to surmise a plan and decided that I would engage the threat. I let rip and from that moment of decision everything fell apart. The noise was deafening. Everybody was awake and throwing clothes and boots on as they scrambled to their posts with their weapons ready for an impending attack. Once awake, you stay awake for a period of time so everyone that has yet to do their shift or finished theirs has less rest.

My Section Commander (Rations - tongue in cheek) was a unit of a man. The most professional, hard hitting commander that I've ever had in the Army and he came down on us (particularly me) with force. The Platoon Sgt (Joe) must of thought "what an idiot".

It turns out I shot my mate from another post. The noises? The muffling sound? That was the quiet conversation of a handover not an attack. Peni had a good laugh about later and in fact we all did; but I swear that it wasn't him I shot at and that the enemy WAS there. You see the darkness of the night can play tricks on your mind. It can disorientate you and what I thought was to my right was in fact behind me, my own men. If that had been real?......I'd hate to think.

Fast forward only a few months and all of us are in East Timor. The final rotation of Kiwi soldiers in what was the end of the initial campaign of stopping the Militia and protecting East Timor from their threats. This was not a training scenario, this was the real deal with real ammunition and real enemy (if they decided to show). NZ had lost a soldier to Militia in this country not that long ago.
Our section was in-trusted with a lot of green patrols. That's the sneaky sneaky stuff where we are camouflaged head to toe. We would go through our normal preparation procedures prior to either infilling by foot, vehicle or helo'd (choppered) in. This particular patrol we were by foot, as I assume to not give away our locations. We each had 20L of water plus food to last us 7 days. We then had our weapons, ammunition, clothing and extra equipment. As I was part of the gun team I had extra gun ammunition for my gunner plus my usual front line plus a few (10 or 12) grenade launcher rounds because I was also the section grenadier! Punishment or responsibility? I'll take the latter. The scales tipped at just over 50kg of equipment that I had to carry in 40 degree heat and high humidity to boot!. For Kiwi soldiers this was hot!

It took us 3 days of foot patrolling  to reach our final lay up point. Our task was to observe a dried up river bed that was also the border between East Timor and Indonesia. We were there for maybe a week. No talking allowed because we needed to be quiet. Lots of sleeping, sweating, eating, sweating, playing cards, sweating, drinking hot cups of tea to preserve our water, reading books, sweating and of course on stag watching this river bed 24/7.

One night I was on stag with Muffin and I'll be honest we had a few quiet chats and talked about what food we would eat when we were back home. The night before was a Friday night and we were up high somewhere else and could see bright lights from Indonesia's side. We talked that night about how everyone back home would be partying, drinking and here we are staring into the bush! Anyway bloody Rosco. I'll get back to him soon.

So we were on stag and it was pitch black but this time we had Night Vision Goggles (NVG), these allow us to see in the dark with the moon's ambient light, albeit not clearly, just shapes this particular night. A couple of guys were walking by ever so quietly; we were watching them. They had something slung over their shoulders but we couldn't make out what.

Enter Rosco. 

He decides that now's a good time to cough, snore and roll over in his sleep. Not earlier when nothing was happening and nobody was around. No, right then. We quietly cursed him because these two guys stopped and said something to each other in Tetum (Timorese language) before deciding to advance into the bush. As soon as they stepped into the bush to advance towards us my finger moved from outside the trigger guard to inside and wrapped itself around it ever so gently. It was my call again because I had the rifle. My Infra-red beam was on the closest centre-of-mass. The problem with NVG is the ambient light of the moon only highlights areas that aren't covered so when these two advanced into the tree-line it was like they disappeared and the only distinguishing mark from them and darkness was the silhouette of a human body. I said, they had something slung and now we couldn't bloody tell what it was.

...after THAT training incident of a few months ago we were all thrashed with ROE training - Rules of Engagement. When is it okay to fire and when is it not. The biggest thing I took out of every scenario was you must clearly identify your enemy. A hunch or because you're scared is not good enough and will get you sent to prison.

I had no clear picture of them and I was shit scared of what was to unplay. They were that close, no more than 10m in front of us and they had no idea we were there. All they knew was they heard noises from Rosco (who decided by now he'd had enough and went quiet). My heart was beating out of my chest but I was adamant I'm not firing a shot unless I know. I played it out in my head. My finger remained on the trigger waiting for a moment when I could clearly identify a threat. Now, we could of challenged them but we didn't want to give away who we were, how many were here etc. Time seemed to slow right down.

They talked briefly as Muffin and I didn't need to talk, we knew exactly what we were saying to each other, in silence. It's called being prepared and training. I thank the heavens I didn't do anything stupid and they walked away because those moments will forever live with me as to what could've become my life as well as theirs. As they turned away and walked back down towards the river bed my finger left the trigger and rested back outside the trigger guard. We dodged a bullet.
To this day, I still couldn't tell you what it was they were carrying, whether it was a weapon or just a stick. That's how I know I made the right decision.

The point of this is that sometimes in life we do stupid things based on impulse which we think is training or appropriate behaviour. We do things because we believe them to be true at the time. Maybe it's arrogance or maybe it's incompetence. Without a doubt I was meant to shoot my mate that night otherwise those two in Timor would of been dead and I would of been up on manslaughter or murder charges. My life would of been destroyed because I got scared and reacted on fear. 

Our training in life is important whether its fitness or nutrition. If we make a mistake then we need to re-train ourselves to make sure it doesn't happen again. Its no good saying 'that wont happen again I was...(insert excuse)'. What's more important about this process is understanding it on a deeper level. We need to take ownership over ourselves and our decisions. If we do that then you won't go through that drive-thru because of your cravings. You won't sleep in or skip your workout because of feeling tired. You won't do any of these negative things to yourself because you know that goes against your life's ethos.

You WILL understand that your body requires salt or your sugar levels are low because you haven't yet ate and that's why the drive-thru is appealing. You WILL understand you went to bed too late the night before and therefore feeling tired is a consequence of that action. You WILL understand that feeling tired in the afternoon is probably because your dehydrated and your blood sugar levels are low because you're lacking electrolytes to function effectively. 

This knowledge and understanding is what's required of you if you're aiming to be professional and searching for a permanent lifestyle change. This is the difference between those that keep their weight off and those that only do in waves - They can think rationally about their emotions.

Go away now and write down YOUR own Rules of Engagement with Fast food/bad food/Fitness/Schedules... #YourLifeRules. Make 2016 the year this changes for you. Clearly understand what you want from it and go ahead and live it. You may need more training on food? more awareness of yourself? You may need to find a really good trainer/gym because your one just doesn't do it for you. If you don't look after yourself then one day it may sneak up on you and what you think you know, is wrong, and its all over before your eyes and that day could be the most life-changing ever.


Dave Okeby
Onward Fitness

A military-styled gym that changes the lives of its members with positivity and direction.

3/2 Machinery Parade
Caboolture 4510

Onward Fitness

By Dave Okeby 06 Mar, 2017
You have the capability to conquer the world if you view and value yourself beyond external looks.

We have this fascination with visual stimulus as our yardstick for progress. We’re too fat, too skinny, our arms too big or jiggly. What about the progress that others cannot see but you can? Is that not significant or even on the same level as dropping a couple of kilos?

I would argue strongly that these are worth more

I was asked recently about the way I hire people and my response was “I don’t hire on qualifications, I hire on character”.

For those that train at Onward Fitness I’m referring to the changes that I’ve seen the last 3 years, I’m referring to examples where a marriage has been saved, a loss of a child/parent/friend has rocked lives but the support here has been the rock at times. I’m referring to the confidence that has grown from completing a movement better or with more weight. I’m referring to the hard times that were conquered because of what this place enables – uncompromising values and a support network that empowers you through life. I’m referring to every little thing that has changed because of your commitment to change. I’m referring to progress through the eyes of the gravity lens. The lens that shows your character, your values, your beliefs, your friendship, your kindness, and your progress as a human being. If you get that right then nothing else matters.

The importance of physical results is not to be squashed, it’s on the high list of priorities but base your progress solely on how you look and you’ll forever chase approval.
By Dave Okeby 27 Feb, 2017
The legend goes, there was once a time when humans held the key to happiness but we abused our power to the point where other humans suffered so we could flourish. The Gods disproval grew until one day they rallied together to take happiness away from us.

One of the Gods said “Let’s take it to the furthest star, they surely will not find it”, another God said “No, they will fly there one day and take it, let’s bury it the depths of the ocean”. “No”, another God said, “they’ll travel there also and discover it.” “Let’s bury it deep inside of the earth” another God said, “No, they’ll dig up the earth for all to see”. The Gods were at a loss until one of them said “Let’s bury it deep inside of them for they will surely not look there” and so it was decided that the key to happiness was to be buried inside every man and woman.

You will always seek more, want more and do more to feel happier if you’re under the illusion that something high in the sky or deep in the ocean is the place where you’ll find happiness.
Humans will get better at enticing you with “happiness” but always remember ‘food that fed the Roman Gladiators is still present today’. Listen to the Gods, stop believing that happiness is how much you weigh or how much you earn. When you shut down the search externally your life begins to change internally. Focus your energy and align your talents with what you can offer the world. Happiness after all includes bad days, that’s life!

The biggest change I see with people I coach at Onward Fitness is not the scales it’s the happiness that returns to their life. They find it.
By Dave Okeby 20 Feb, 2017
The words below are brutal but they’re honest. I hear countless amounts of excuses either directly or indirectly and it’s all the same. I myself over the years have made excuses for not succeeding where I wanted too and when I look back I shared the same simple reason as everybody else…I didn’t want it bad enough.

I didn’t blame the weather, the lack of hours in the day, the early starts, the food, the plan, the training. I didn’t actually blame anything other than my desire to really “want” was too weak. Those failures weren’t at all completely wasted. I learned from those experiences and now I’ve developed ‘desire’ to become a strength. I pick and choose my battles and when I want something to work I go all out to see it happen.

Now ask yourself if you truly desire to change?

Are you desperate enough to change your lifestyle and see that weight drop off? Are you desperate enough to run 5km without stopping or stick to a gym routine or an eating plan because you know it’s what’s needed to get there?
Are you desperate enough to change?

The answer up until this point is probably ‘NO’ if this message strikes accord with you and you know what…that’s okay, you are allowed to fail. Many Greats of this world have time and time again.

What would I say to someone who has tried everything there is?
I’d say this...

“Grab a pen + paper and write down your number one goal and list every single possible reason why that goal means so much to you”

I want this list to be bigger than a child’s list to Santa.

That list is your desire. That list is your desperation.
Each time you think of giving up, look at that list.
Each time life gets in the way of that list then your desire to change weakens. EACH TIME!

A parent will always say nothing is more important than their children and let me tell you, if your children’s names are on that list then there should be no way in hell that you should ever give in.

The third value of Onward Fitness is:

Your life is worth just as much as mine, we're all equal. Find a way to reach that goal and become someone who calls on desire and desperation as a strength.

Founder and Owner
Onward Fitness
“Empowering from the inside out”
By Dave Okeby 13 Feb, 2017
You know the saying “If I can do it then anybody can do it” well it’s used for good reason and that’s because it’s true.

Recently we celebrated a Christmas Cruise holiday which doubled as our Honeymoon and it tripled as one of our goals to achieve for the family to experience.
What did it take?

It took a small weekly saving, put away, not to be touched over a 24 month period. Sounds easy right? It was until it was put to the test and we were down to one income. We toyed with the idea of using it but our goal wasn’t for sale. We looked at other ways as we reminded ourselves what the goal was. Believe me the temptation to spend it was there but

I guess that’s why they call them obstacles

Goals are easy when things go to plan and everything is smooth sailing but what about when things get roughed up? What about when the weight doesn’t shift? Or you’ve abstaining from alcohol and it’s presented to you for the first time?
If you crack at the first hurdle then I have news for you…You’ll never achieve anything apart from getting really good at cracking at the first hurdle.

So how to do you overcome that and achieve greatness this year (and every year)?

The goal must mean more to you than anything else
Write it down and display it
Tell someone | Tell Yourself
Predict as much as you can which could get in the way and be ready for it.

If you follow these steps you will succeed.
Decide what you want and lets avoid 11 months from now “Stuff you 2017, bring on 2018”
By Dave Okeby 06 Feb, 2017
“Great Culture is set by the ability to communicate your values effectively.” – David Okeby

Let that sink in.

Culture is the seen and the unseen, it’s the spoken word and the unspoken. It represents your brand in a clearer light than any marketing masterpiece. There’s a saying “You can wrap a rotten apple in the finest Egyptian silk and make it worthy for a King but at its core, it’s still rotten.”

How can you identify your culture?
…Peel back the layers.

Onward Fitness has a culture of empowering, supporting and positively impacting lives; It’s been the heart of who we are since Day one.

What does it take to have a culture like this?

Start today by reviewing your online and offline presence (professionally and personally) and judge it alongside your values. Be proactive and be accountable, if it’s rotten, change it. If it’s exceptional, replicate it.

‘A leader eats last’ – place all that you serve in front of you so your eyes can see and your voice can project. If you’re in the front leading, making decisions and changing tact all the time how do you know if your followers are following? Be with them, they want a leader not a dictator.

Whether you’re a CEO of a large corporation, a President or an owner of a family business, treat every person (customers and staff) as individuals; Treat them as people. Culture is ingrained regardless of inaction or action. Impacting those around you positively will reflect an exceptional culture.

In the end culture has a ripple effect that once in motion not even a wall can keep it from flowing.
By Dave Okeby 30 Jan, 2017
If you haven’t thought 5 years ahead, I have news for you.

You know the saying “where do you see yourself in 5 years?” If you’re honest you don’t take much notice of it. Some live day by day others may believe nothing happens to them (always to others) and finally the most common excuse is 5 years is too far away. It’s a waste of time etc.

Take me for example: In 5 years’ time Manward will be in every state and possibly reaching international status.

We are now in 2017 and I’d like to highlight some important truths for you:
• We work longer and harder than we did 5 years ago (ABS via the Census tells us that)
• There’s more fast food available now than 5 years ago
(The Australian fast food market is valued at more than 2.7 billion GPB and is composed of 1.4 billion fast food meals. This includes meals serviced at 17,000 fast food outlets. The fast food market has experienced an average annual growth rate of 6.5 percent, which is the most rapidly growing sector of the retail food market).

Essentially in our lives right now we’re asked to do more, for longer, with worse nutritional consumption and whilst experiencing greater stress and less activity. In all honesty if you’re expecting to take it day-by-day then purely by the stats, you’ll be worse off. The question is though…

Based on the knowledge that we eat shit, sleep less, work more and experience more of “life” (whatever that means) what does 2022 look like for you if you do nothing about it?

On the flipside what could it look like if you do something now?

Owner and Head Coach
Onward Fitness

Creator and President
By Dave Okeby 23 Jan, 2017
Hands up if you have no idea how your body works but you know you need to change it?
If you’re one of the thousands of hands raised right now then you’ve probably experienced multiple attempts at trying to change how you look and feel for little to no success. I’m here to tell you…it changes NOW.

If that’s you then maybe this story is familiar.

You own a reliable family wagon but you really want to have a faster, sexier, sportier family car so instead of trading it in and upgrading you simply drive it differently. You accelerate more, you’re a little more reckless because you think that’s what sports car do but the problem will always be, you’re still in the reliable family wagon.
What you need to do is let go of that family wagon and begin searching for the sportier version that fits who you are and then work towards obtaining it. You’ll have to accept that right now you own a family wagon but know that with the right mindset, support and responsibility all of this will change.

Along the journey you’ll meet people who will think you’re crazy and will not support you, sometimes that comes from within your own family home! Other times you meet people who share a similar journey to you and they will inspire you to keep the course. You might start joining supportive fb groups that align with this or signing up to email lists that give you what you want. You will feel closer to owning that sports car when you’re around those people. Your behaviour and mindset changes as you learn new things that only those who own sports cars know. You’ll discover more about owning one and how you maintain it so it becomes easier in your life. You’ll learn basic servicing skills like what tyre pressure it needs, what fuel is best and how to drive it on wet days vs sunny days. You’ll become so engrossed with new information and insight that the goal is now within hands reach.

BUT ( a BIG but) before you get to that stage there will be a tipping point and eventually a decision must be made and two things will happen…

1. It will get too hard and the decision to keep your family wagon and justify it in some way because it’s easier will prevail. You’ll be feeling down and depressed for sure, carrying on life as if you’ve never had that dream until a few months or years pass when you start to drive your family wagon like a sports car again.


2. You will persevere and discover that over time you gain confidence as you edge closer to your goal and suddenly those that were providing resistance have either left your life through jealously or if they care about you, they’ve changed their minds and think you should have a sports car so they become your support strength and along with the like-minded people you follow it is now in reach. This is what achieving a goal feels like.

Are you driving the right car?

Owner and Founder
Onward Fitness
By Dave Okeby 16 Jan, 2017
I had something completely different to share today but a couple of events over the last week has passionately enabled me to write this piece.

Out of respect for one of these events I will focus on the other.

Two nights ago our town hosted it’s very first Caboolture Eats and Beats Festival, an idea to bring the community together during summer to enjoy the weather along with good food and music, brilliant concept. Before I carry on I am in no way linked to this event or its organisers, my views are my own.
Enter reality and things did not go as well as they would have liked. To sum it up, it was a 39 degree day with hundreds of people inside a small space, limited food trucks and very long queues plus a few power outages. There was criticism and rightly so. The organisers will no doubt take heed of it and create a better experience next time. I waited some time for our meal and throughout I heard all sorts of disappointment and FB went off as it does. Bernice came over to check on me and so did Carol. I wasn’t angry nor disappointed because yes all the above things happened but the reason they happened is because so many of us came out to enjoy something with our family and friends and it overwhelmed the event. People want this, how is that negative!

My eyes were open to the bigger picture, I was not focused on my own expectations falling short nor was I focused on all the uncontrollable’s like everyone else was. If we go through life always blaming others for our expectations not being met then who is to blame for that? If you said it’s not you then you’re wrong. We set our own expectations and we decide our attitude, stop blaming others when things don’t go as planned and start taking ownership over your emotions and your attitude. It is this ownership that will enable you to lose weight, get fit, eat right, stop smoking, reduce your drinking and to be happy. If the blame stays then the excuses snuggle in and suddenly it’s the gyms fault that you haven’t lost weight or it’s the diet plan that isn’t working or it’s the small space, long queues that meant I had a terrible time.

The ethos I coach at Onward Fitness and at Manward is the reason why our members see results both physically and psychologically.

“Choose your attitude and you’ll choose your life”
By Dave Okeby 09 Jan, 2017

A fish needs too in order to survive although I’m not sure if they actually worry. Humans don’t need to worry about scales to survive yet we worry about a frickin number that simply tells us how much gravitational pull we have towards the Earth!

We shouldn’t really worry about anything, because worry is a wasted emotion that’s never a positive influence anyway however for the purpose of explaining we should be more “concerned” for what we’re doing to our bodies than the outcome from a number on a metal square.

While I’m on the subject of weight. Fat does not weigh more than muscle.
1kg of fat is the same as 1kg of muscle or the same as 1kg of pancakes. What we should be identifying with a statement like that is 1kg of muscle is denser than fat (and pancakes) and therefore you might tip the scales at the same weight but your guaranteed to be looking frickin amazing! Who the hell cares then how much you weigh, when you have the body you’re after!

And there we have it…

Focus on the method, the input and output of your life. What you put in your mouth and what you use your body for because if you get that right then how much pull you have towards the earth is the least of your worries oops concerns.

By Dave Okeby 19 Dec, 2016
Do you find that you compare yourself to your friends, family, work colleagues or even society!

If you do then you’re not alone.

We seem to be wired by default to think, “What we have is not good enough” and sadly it's a destructive way to live. I’m here to tell you, you are good enough and chasing the wrong tail will lead you down the wrong path.
Why are big lotto draws becoming frequently popular? They play on the concept that something else outside of our control will make our lives better.

Listen to my story. I’m about to share it in two different ways

View 1: My life based on a society view.

I’m a 35 year old who doesn’t own a house (I should though), a nice car or have a steady income. I work extremely long and hard hours and in my first year of business I earned less than $50.00 per day for my efforts! (Would you get out of bed for a 12 hour day for that?), I'm not providing. I'm yet another kiwi who arrived with nothing. I have limited connections to this area. I sometimes wonder what’s coming next.

View 2: How I view my life.

I’m a 35 year old who rents because we support our in-laws and run a business that's changing more lives than a steady job and that’s more important right now than paying a mortgage. I had an income that at the time was well below minimum wage but that’s because I’m in the early years establishing my brand and most businesses don’t survive 3 years (3 years come Jan 11 2017). My first year was the hardest mentally, emotionally and financially but I loved it because I came out stronger and more determined to succeed. I arrived with a suitcase, Bernice and I met when I was working casually at Coles that means she saw the true me, materialistic free. I have Bernice’s wonderful family here who I call my own and we support each other. I often wonder where to next.

Tell me how do you look at your life? Are you sabotaging your own success by becoming your own worst enemy? If you are then it's time to rewire that brain for your best outcome.
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