50 shiny buckles on a backpack – how to recruit a guerilla/terrorist

Yesterday afternoon we sat for hours riveted by Tom Howes talking about his experiences while held captive in the Colombian jungle for  more than 5 years.    We won’t mention the captors’ name here, because they’d probably just enjoy any publicity.  Living among them for so long, Tom has his own answer to how they recruit  “these 15-year-old kids”.   The loneliness of isolation, hunger, lack of education, the lure of what Tom called “toys” like a backpack and a weapon, and fear of being shot by comrades.  “Cut off the head of the snake,” he advises.

Tom Howes photos from insideedition.com

Tom Howes photos from insideedition.com

Photo from insideedition.com article.

Tom, we’re glad you made it back, and inexpressibly sad for those who never will come home and those who are still held captive.

Tom spoke yesterday at our customer-partner conference in Indialantic, Florida.  It amazes me that anyone can survive that ordeal, and retain a sense of humor as he has.   Tom said that thoughts of family are what kept him going.   That, and, typical of Tom’s self-deprecating humor, the machismo that would kick in when the young women carrying heavier packs kept on marching.    Too many good stories to fit here.  Read the book that  he co-authored.

Out of Captivity:  Surviving 1967 Days in the Colombian Jungle.

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