WAIT­ING FOR 6 MONTHS, 29 DAYS AND 13 HOURS

The UB Post - - FRONT PAGE - By B.DULGUUN

An in­creas­ing num­ber of Mon­go­lian young men and women are go­ing on peace­keep­ing mis­sions abroad in an ef­fort to se­cure world peace. To date, around 13,000 Mon­go­lian sol­diers and mil­i­tary of­fi­cers have par­tic­i­pated in in­ter­na­tional peace­keep­ing mis­sions, fight­ing day and night to pro­tect refugees from harm at the most dan­ger­ous sit­u­a­tions. The never-end­ing suf­fer­ing and bru­tal­ity they see ev­ery day is ex­cru­ci­at­ing both phys­i­cally and men­tally. It’s im­pos­si­ble to imag­ine how se­vere and dif­fi­cult peace­keep­ing mis­sions are un­less you ex­pe­ri­ence it first­hand, but so is the wait for their re­turn.

Fam­i­lies of peace­keep­ers ex­pe­ri­ence as much an­guish, sor­row and tor­ment as their coura­geous son, daugh­ter, fa­ther, mother, brother, sis­ter or sig­nif­i­cant other when they go on a mis­sion be­cause they have to send them off to a war zone and en­dure count­less days and nights wor­ry­ing about their well­be­ing and whether they’ll be able to re­unite. While some peace­keep­ing op­er­a­tions last for a few months, some con­tinue for years and there are nu­mer­ous brave men and women who sign up for such mis­sions con­tin­u­ously, tak­ing only a cou­ple of weeks off to see their fam­ily.

Ac­cord­ing to some peace­keep­ers, their strong de­sire to en­sure world peace and com­plete their mis­sion with honor is fu­eled by the thought of their fam­ily but at the same time, the long­ing to see them again can crum­ble their valor and will.

NOVEM­BER 6, MON­DAY

The fifth bat­tal­ion of Mon­go­lian sol­diers who re­cently com­pleted NATO’s De­ci­sive Sup­port mis­sion in Afghanistan was sched­uled to land at Ching­gis Khaan In­ter­na­tional Air­port on Novem­ber 6. While wait­ing for them to land out­side of Mil­i­tary Unit No.303, fam­ily mem­bers of the peace­keep­ers could not help but worry whether the plane will land with­out get­ting de­layed by the strong wind and heavy snow­fall.

As the due time ap­proached, a loud thun­der struck in the sky and a large plane be­came vis­i­ble from the clouds. Right then, many of the anx­ious fam­ily mem­bers seemed to re­lax see­ing that the plane had ar­rived safely. Peace­keep­ers quickly got out of the plane look­ing fas­ci­nated to see snow­fall af­ter spend­ing over six months un­der the scorch­ing sun. The bat­tal­ion was wel­comed at the air­port by Deputy Chief of the Gen­eral Staff of the Mon­go­lian Armed Forces, Ma­jor Gen­eral J.Badambazar, US Am­bas­sador to Mon­go­lia Jen­nifer Zim­dahl Galt, and their sub­or­di­nates. While stand­ing at at­ten­tion, their yel­low boots be­came wet from the thick snow and their nose tips started to red­den by the -5 de­grees Cel­sius tem­per­a­ture, but that didn’t seem to bother them be­cause they were fi­nally go­ing to em­brace their beloved fam­ily very soon.

Ev­ery­one rushed to their fam­ily af­ter­ward. One of these ea­ger peace­keep­ers was the Deputy Com­mis­sioner of Armed Forces Unit No.189, Lieu­tenant Colonel Ch.Munkh­jantsan, who has been count­ing the days to meet his chil­dren and fam­ily. This man is the fa­ther of Asian weightlift­ing cham­pion M.Ankht­set­seg.

Af­ter 210 days, he fi­nally em­braced his mother who in­sisted on greet­ing him at the air­port de­spite her poor health. She kissed his left cheek to com­plete her un­fin­ished cus­tom where she pur­posely didn’t kiss the last time in hopes to meet him again. (This is a very com­mon cus­tom in Mon­go­lia.)

At home, his chil­dren were im­pa­tiently wait­ing for him to re­turn and kept phon­ing their “spy” to know their where­abouts. They were get­ting ready to hold a sur­prise for their fa­ther. The chil­dren’s ex­cite­ment and yearn­ing for their fa­ther was ev­i­dent in the dec­o­ra­tions they had put up on the walls and the feast set up on the ta­ble. They said that ev­ery­one helped to dec­o­rate the house.

Ch.Munkh­jantsan’s youngest daugh­ter, OyunEr­dene, ap­par­ently re­fig­ured a bal­loon in the shape of the let­ter “N” to make the let­ter “Y” to com­plete her let­ter dec­o­ra­tion on the wall which read “Happy Day” the night be­fore even though she had an im­por­tant weightlift­ing tour­na­ment the next day. She missed her fa­ther’s first en­trance to his home af­ter six months be­cause of her tour­na­ment but at the ex­act mo­ment, she called to tell him that she won a bronze medal.

The only son, Er­denebat, came up to his fa­ther and showed him the bronze medal he had won ear­lier that day. Ankht­set­seg had worn her na­tional team’s uni­form and medals to show it off to her fa­ther.

“It seems that my chil­dren won tons of medals and prizes while I was gone. Should I wear the medal I got as well?” the peace­keeper joked with his chil­dren. The chil­dren seemed to have missed their fa­ther very much as they couldn’t leave his side even for a sec­ond. The el­dest daugh­ter, Ankht­set­seg, then back-hugged her fa­ther and played around for a while. There prob­a­bly was noth­ing more that could have made these chil­dren hap­pier than to be em­braced and pam­pered by their fa­ther. The room was filled with laugh­ter and warm at­mos­phere.

Af­ter­ward, Munkh­jantsan rem­i­nisced about his first time on a peace­keep­ing mis­sion to Sierra Leone 11 years ago and talked about how tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vance­ments have made his mis­sions eas­ier and more con­ve­nient to com­mu­ni­cate with his fam­ily over the years.

“But still, there’s a tremen­dous dif­fer­ence be­tween talk­ing through a screen and be­ing able to see my fam­ily in real life, be able to hug them, and even smell them,” he said.

Many things hap­pened in this fam­ily dur­ing Munkh­jantsan’s ab­sence. The big­gest in­ci­dent was his sec­ond daugh­ter Nomin-Er­dene’s re­con­struc­tive plas­tic surgery for a burn she ac­quired while tak­ing a 20-liter­sheavy pot with por­ridge to her class­room at her sports school. At the time, she tripped and fell down on the boil­ing hot soup, get­ting se­vere burns on her face, neck, chest, and arms. The fam­ily man­aged to raise over 70 mil­lion MNT for Nomin-Er­dene’s surgery in two weeks with gen­er­ous do­na­tions made by the pub­lic through a cam­paign.

The fa­ther said that he can never for­get the day Ankht­set­seg won three gold medals at the 2017 Asian Youth and Ju­nior Weightlift­ing Cham­pi­onships in Nepal be­cause it hap­pened on the same day Nomin- Er­dene had her sec­ond surgery in South Korea. “It was a day of anx­ious­ness and hap­pi­ness,” he de­scribed. Ankht­set­seg also be­came a two-time cham­pion and won an­other gold medal at the 5th Asian In­door and Mar­tial Arts Games, Ash­ga­bat 2017, af­ter suc­cess­fully re­cov­er­ing from her in­jury. She was re­cently awarded with the Or­der of the Red Ban­ner of La­bor through a pres­i­den­tial de­cree, which made her fa­ther feel over the moon.

These past six months with­out their fa­ther, hus­band and son wasn’t easy for this fam­ily, es­pe­cially when most of them had to en­dure stren­u­ous train­ing. Six or seven months can pass by quickly for those who don’t have a clear goal in life and don’t have to wait for any­thing in par­tic­u­lar. But this pe­riod of time is es­pe­cially long for fam­i­lies of men and women go­ing to war zones to en­sure peace on the other side of the globe. De­spite the sor­row and con­stant worry, they sup­port and en­cour­age each other and strive for­ward to achieve their goals just like Munkh­jantsan’s fam­ily.

Pho­tos by G.ARGUUJIN

Munkh­jantsan and his fam­ily cel­e­brate his re­turn from peace­keep­ing mis­sion in Afghanistan

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