29 March 1998

Peace Stabilisation Force - Operation Joint Guard - Exercise Dynamic Response 98

Toy time in Gacko

by Capt. Peter Tubaas

Gacko, Bosnia and Hercegovina - Teddy bears, dolls and clothes were among the supplies Dutch Marines handed out to children in the small Republika Srpska village of Gacko, during Exercise Dynamic Response '98. It was early morning, Sunday March 29, when soldiers from the 1 Battalion of the Royal Netherlands Marine Corps surprised the youngsters with toys they had collected and brought with them from Holland.

The happy smiles and the exciting glow from the eyes of the children were not to be mistaken; there was no doubt that the kids appreciated the fact the Dutch soldiers spent time with them and gave them gifts from their homeland. The soldiers took the initiative to collect the toys themselves, giving the Strategic Reserve Force exercise an additional, human dimension.

Representatives from the town's schools supervised the session. The stop at the centre of Gacko, on their way back to Mostar, was a positive and popular gesture from the Dutch soldiers. While they tried to take care of all the children's requests there were some they just could not help.

"Unfortunately we have not got enough toys for everyone," said a frustrated Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Jos Coumans after the session.

Photo: Capt. Peter Tubaas, SFOR Informer. (60Kb)

Photo 1
Gacko - Bosnia and Hercegovina, March 29, 1998. A child from the town of Gacko hugs a soft toy he has just been given by Marines of the 1st Marine Battalion (Netherlands) who had stopped while in transit to do a toy distribution to the youngsters of the area.

Photo: Capt: Peter Tubaas, SFOR Informer. (63Kb)

Photo 2
Gacko - Bosnia and Hercegovina, March 29, 1998. Battalion Commander, Lt. Col. Jos Coumans of the Netherlands 1st Marine Battalion meets local youngsters when the Dutch Marines stopped en-route to meet the people of the town and distribute toys to small children.

Higher resolution images of DR'98 can be supplied via e-mail. Address requests or any queries concerning the images and caption information included in this page to David Taylor on

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