Grandma: Bosnia is cold, bleak and bullet-riddled Published: November 11, 2012

By MATTHEW LEVI AAMOT — COURTESY TO THE BELLINGHAM HERALD

Dear Grandma Charlotte,

Well, have been deployed to the Balkans for almost a month. It has sure been an interesting experience to come to a part of the world that has been part of the “enemy” for so long. …

We crossed the river and headed into Bosnia, south to Tuzla. Then to our present location at a town called Olovo Luke, about 76 kilometers south of Tuzla, 56 k’s north of Sarajevo. …

We are the furthest south American forces in the Muslim sector. The zone of separation is to the east. It tries to keep apart the Serbs and Muslims, so they don’t keep up any of the wanton destruction they have perpetuated so far.

One thing that bothers me here is all the kids who stand out at the road and beg food. Thing is, most of these kids so far are well fed and clothed, and are just trying to get something for nothing. … Suspect that the kids are being paid by the Bosnian army to get ahold of our MREs (meals) to use for themselves.

I also think that these people are just using this year to rearm and recruit more troops. After we leave they will fight again. Maybe we can help get peace established, but somehow, I don’t think that us being here will make a lasting impact.

Well, love from your grandson.

- Excerpts from a March 1996 letter from Matthew Levi Aamot to his grandmother, Charlotte Aamot, in Bellingham. A private first class in the Army from 1994 to 1998, Aamot served in Bosnia for eight months in 1996.

Nebojsa Malic excerpted the same letter on his blog, adding, “[O]ne of the things I learned in Bosnia, while having the honor to work with retired Army colonel David Hackworth, was that one should always trust the grunts, not the ‘perfumed princes’ with fruit salads on their uniforms. I’ve heard from the grunts - much, much later - it was a near run thing that Bosnia did not relapse into war by the end of 1996.”