FIVE Zimbabwean commandoes swam the shark-infested Atlantic Ocean off the Namibian coast for more than three hours to save their lives after a training exercise went horribly wrong.
According to the latest ZNA magazine, the five soldiers were part of a SADC Special Forces training exercise in October 2013 who had to resort to their bravery and endurance to survive after their boats capsized during a sea-borne exercise.
After the mishap, 21 members of the team had to swim for three-and-a-half hours to shore. A Malawian soldier died after being hit on the head by propellers while two South Africans were "reported missing in action.
The five Zimbabweans - corporals Manunure Frequency, Mapfumo Samuel and Mutemera Shadreck of 1 Commando Regiment and lance corporals Jakarasi Obey and Mukandiona Justice of Parachute Regiment - have now been promoted by a rank each.
Army Commander, Lieutenant-General Phillip Valerio Sibanda, recommended their elevation to reward them for "enduring difficult conditions in the ocean to survive disaster."
In an interview with the Sunday Mail, 1 Commando Regiment commanding officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Washington Chidavanyika, praised his troops.
"They came face-to-face with death but, like true soldiers, they did not let the daunting odds of survival deter them," he said.
"On realising that their boat was slowly drifting deeper into the ocean, the team decided to swim to the shoreline but since it was pitch dark, orientation was difficult to maintain.
"They decided to swim close to each other and helped those who would have been tired by carrying them on their backs.
"I was confident that they would survive because we embark on some intensive pre-exercise training before such operations.
"The first thing they said to me when they made it to shore was 'shefu, we made it'. It was a joyous moment for all involved."