SFOR:Soldier in the spotlight
SFOR 2006.11.18. 20:22
Lt. Antonio Ruiz González
First published in SFOR Informer#146,
August 29, 2002
Ferenc Toth-Bera is not a common soldier. He is a 'Brigadier-Chef' (Corporal) with the Foreign Legion Armoured Cavalry Regiment (1er REC) which is attached to the French Battle Group (FRBG). He was born in Szeghalom, Hungary, but became a French citizen during his service in the French Army. "I joined the Legion eight years ago. Before that, I was a miner in my own country," said Toth-Bera.
The Legionnaire is a volunteer, and first of all an infantryman. They spend four months training in Castelnaudary, France, with the 4th Foreign Legion Regiment, a recruitment regiment. After training is completed they are sent to Infantry combat regiments. "I was posted for two years to the French Guyana (South America) with the 3rd REI (Foreign Legion Infantry Regiment) as a rifleman, in a combat platoon," he said. "We were trained in deep forest combat for a whole month in a non-stop exercise." Completing two years in French Guyana was not without challenge.
"The jungle is a hard environment. Once I was wounded," said Toth-Bera. "A wooden stick went through my leg in an exercise." Upon his return to France he was assigned to the 1er REC where he began his specialisation as a cavalryman. At that time he finished his first five-year contract and was able to acquire French citizenship. He was promoted from Legionnaire to his present rank through several stages within his regiment.
"I was sent on a mission to FYROM (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) and to Réunion Island (Indian Ocean) and now here to Bosnia and Herzegovina," explained Toth-Bera. "I like the job I'm doing here and the whole platoon is in a good mood," he said. "For the future, we will see. If the Foreign Legion want my services then I would like to stay for a long time." As it is said in the Foreign Legion 'There is a reason to come, but there is a very different one to stay'. Since it's inception in 1831, the French Foreign Legion has lost 902 officers, 3,176 non-commissioned officers and over 30,000 legionnaires due to a number of military conflicts.
NATO ends SFOR mission - Dec.2, 2004