He finished his medic course in July of 1974 and got his wish to be posted back to the RLI. He was posted in an operational area around Mt. Darwin, dealing with injuries sustained by the troops in the field. He found it to be a comfortable place where he could write and get stamps, but the boredom began to get to him. He wanted to be on the sharp end of the spear. He proposed to the CO that he wanted to go out and act as a medic and infantryman. He had both skills and the CO approved his request.

He joined the sticks going on callouts. It was here that he had a chance to treat onsite battle casualties. On one operation, he spent the night in a krall attending to some civilian casualties awaiting a casevac the next morning. A bit of a harrowing experience.

Terrorist activity increased during this time around Mt. Darwin and his skills as a medic and soldier were put to use. He noted that having a combat medic in the line increased the confidence and morale of the Troopies. Coey began to regain his sense of purpose and vigor that had brought him to Rhodesia. He writes, “It’s important for me to remain a combat soldier and a specialist medic, because only then will some people listen to you when you attempt to explain the bigger issues; of such, the battle for Rhodesia is only one.” And, “I feel that I have found my historical role here, and once that is finished, I don’t know what I’ll do….”

There was trepidation at granting his request due to the lack of trained medics at the time. He believed that in doing this it would improve the morale and respect of the Medical Corps. A Commando Medic. He cited the use of the USMC and their use of the Corpsman in the ranks of the rifle company. A medic who acted in a combatant role would serve a dual purpose of being able to fight, as well as a better chance of saving valuable troops by responding on the spot.

After some R&R he went back but was again posted to HQ. He again asked for a different posting, hopefully permanent in terms of his duties. Many people implored him to look at his duties as a medic and non-combatant as a blessing, but he would hear none of it. “I have an inner peace because I trust God to look after my safety, even if I get drilled one day. I’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that I achieved my purpose in this country, and that I gave all I could. It is important to do this even though others may betray you.”

Permission was granted for this experiment and he returned to Mt. Darwin as an unattached medic. He would go on whatever fire-force operation was called up. In December of that year, the tempo increased and he was on almost continuous duty. The RLI was racking up kills with few casualties of its own. Coey had a close call when one of the choppers he was on was came under fire with the pilot being shot. Fortunately, the co-pilot put the bird down without further injury.

Coey spent Christmas in Salisbury, which he admitted was very ‘lonely,’ but he remained motivated. He recounts that his performance in Fire Force was enough to have most medics retrained with the capability to act as medic and infantryman. In influencing the Army, he felt that he was expunging the humiliation that had come with his dismissal from the SAS.

During the following months, he rotated in and out of Mt. Darwin and the Zambezi Valley. With renewed pride and resoluteness, he decided to apply for citizenship as a Rhodesian. In June, he was granted citizenship and also applied for a new passport as a dual citizen. “What a chuckle, filling out those papers under a portrait of Henry Kissinger !” He was now firmly committed to finishing his military service, and looked forward to possibly staying on in Rhodesia permanently.