Guillermo Lobo and Malvinas veterans Carlos Rohde (Dagger Squadron Leader), Commodore Pablo Mouesca (CIC), Carlos Napoleón Martínez (Squadron Leader) and Horacio Mir González (Squadron Leader).  (Photo: Maximiliano Heredia)

In superhero series, the villain always seems more powerful than the protagonist. But the hero fights against these superior forces and, facing his limitations and fears, finally wins.

Although we know that kryptonite never existed, there is no doubt that this harmful “substance” weakens Superman. The penguin against Batman, the Green Goblin against Spiderman, Darth Vader against Obi-Wan make us fly with the imagination to impressive battles. All these fantasies can come to mind when we want to talk about comic book “superheroes”. Very different is when we must quote the flesh and blood heroes. The real ones, the ones that are part of history.

Guillermo Lobo and Malvinas veterans Carlos Rohde (Dagger Squadron Leader), Commodore Pablo Mouesca (CIC), Carlos Napoleón Martínez (Squadron Leader) and Horacio Mir González (Squadron Leader). (Photo: Maximiliano Heredia)

Malvinas leaves several pages of true stories of courage and values

fighter pilots Horacio Mir Gonzalez Y Charles Rohde (they manned Daggers in 1982) invited me to accompany them to the ceremony for the 40 years of the deed convened in the VI Air Brigade of Tandil. For me, it was fulfilling a dream. The members of the Airmobile Squadrons would return to the “Nest”. Although there were meetings in previous years, for the first time they would be all the protagonists that became legend feats of the Mirage in Falklands.

Dart Y Beaver (his flight callsigns in 1982) took me in his car from Buenos Aires to Tandil. They were 355.2 kilometers full of anecdotes. I traveled in the back seat like the kids. Enraptured stowaway. He couldn’t believe it: they are battle-tested, they are truly brave, they don’t theorize about bravery.

I also read: “Feel the Homeland”: Soldiers Reenact the Falklands War for an Exciting Photo Show

They and their comrades were the scourge of the british fleet. They are both telling stories and they are so absorbed that they forget that I am behind. Better!: They laugh, after a while they get excited. They do not know that behind and in silence I laugh and cry with them. They unravel more anecdotes of missions and combat. I’m quiet, listening. With their hands, Dardo and Castor draw those maneuvers, turn the car into the cabin of their planes and make them push buttons and power up and dodge missiles. This is how we arrived in Tandil. We enter the base and the years 1982 and 2022 come together. The fearsome Dart and Castor give me goosebumps for returning to the Nest. His house.

The central ceremony for the 40 years of Malvinas in the Tandil air brigade (Photo: Maximiliano Heredia).
The central ceremony for the 40 years of Malvinas in the Tandil air brigade (Photo: Maximiliano Heredia).

The reunion of the superheroes

The night falls. If the car was a time machine, now two huge sheds would be needed to shelter so many veterans that will unite past and present. Little by little, the members of the squads began to arrive. The Wild Bustards (which in the War they deployed in Rio Grande) and The Marinettes (which operated from San Julián). Hugs and more hugs. Lots of laughs and brotherhood. With more gray hair some, already with glasses others. Everyone greeted each other with laughter and triggered memories with just a word or some gesture that only they know and will know.

In the center of the magic barbecue, a table with empty chairs, served with plates and cutlery. It is the table that would have been occupied by those who did not return but, without a doubt, they are in this reunion. Brigadier Horacio Mir González requests a minute of silence for them.

Then the commodore Carlos Napoleon Martinez (Squad Leader in 1982) encourages his men as in those days. Martinez recalls: “Days before the baptism of fire on May 1, they summoned all the pilots to a room. Navy officials informed us that there was no way to attack the ships of the fleet. We look at each other. Until the then chief of the Southern Air Force command, Brigadier Ernesto Crespo (El Cuzco) broke the silence and with full authority ordered ‘well, you heard, it is impossible to attack them… I give you 48 hours to make the impossible possible and we have plans to attack the fleet. Sirs: the Air Force is going into combat‘”. Goosebumps for the umpteenth time.

I go to another table. To fulfill the missions in the Malvinas, the pilots left from San Julián or from Río Grande, but not all of them returned, a reason that led the personnel to cope with these extreme situations in different ways. “The most serious problem I had was when I went to sleep at night. There I thought not only of those who had fallen, but also of myself. family”, confesses the commodore (retired) Raul Diaz.

All the participants of the tribute for the 40 years of the Malvinas war in the Tandil air brigade (Photo: Maximiliano Heredia).
All the participants of the tribute for the 40 years of the Malvinas war in the Tandil air brigade (Photo: Maximiliano Heredia).

On May 24, 1982, during an attack on the fleet, a missile hit Diaz’s aircraft squarely. However, he managed to eject. With him were two more Mirage V Daggers, who were also hit. While one of the pilots, louis puga, also managed to survive; the first lieutenant (postmortem) Carlos Julio Castillo it fell into the sea along with the remains of its aircraft.

Table I went to, table I opened moving stories. The night was so, so short. You had to rest. Another day full of true stories was coming. Not comic stories.

the center ceremony

Commodore Aníbal Leiva (chief of the VI Tandil Air Brigade) prepared the base impeccably. The veterans were very appreciative because they know the effort that goes into it. The tribute took place in “El Bosque”, a space that concentrates 55 trees in memory of the fallen. They are guarded by two Mirages as if in combat flight. Leiva admits: “The Malvinas veterans set the bar very high. They summarize what we always wanted and want to be. When the Nation called them to fulfill the oath to defend the Homeland until they lost their lives, they did not hesitate”.

Miguel Angel Rinaudo, an Air Force non-commissioned officer who was in Río Grande as an electrician, remembers that every time the pilots took off, they took the available blankets, like flags, and stood on the sides of the runway to encourage them. However, when night fell, it was inevitable to think of those comrades they had lost.

I also read: 40 years after the Malvinas War: complete chronology of the conflict

Rinaudo, aircraft mechanics and electricians carried out a modification of the Mirage III tanks so that they could be used in the Dagger. A feat that allowed these last aircraft to remain active during the conflict. “I was 21 years old and had a vigor and strength that the world wore,” he recalls. joseph paschalone of the non-commissioned officers of the Force who participated in this repair.

The then captain Horacio Mir González, Dagger pilot in 1982, confesses that, despite the fact that he was flying alone, the mechanics encouraged him to assume the commitment he had with the defense of sovereignty: “I closed the cabin. Inside, I felt that (the mechanic) was telling me: “You can’t let me down.” He had worked all night, with 15 degrees below zero. And finally, I was taxiing and they were on the side of the track, with flags. Do you know what that was for me?

The farewell

My ears and emotion are not enough to listen to them and ask them more and more stories. In 1982, I was 13 years old. Since then, like so many Argentines, I have read, reread and researched each one of the heroic chapters of those who fought for Our Falklands in air, sea and land.

(Photo: Maximiliano Heredia)
(Photo: Maximiliano Heredia)

40 years later they are still sprouting stories of real heroes, flesh and blood. Today I have the privilege of being with them. To hug them, to thank them. But the day is gone. The ceremony is ending and I don’t want it to ever end as our tribute to them should never end.

Before we leave, I ask Commodore Martínez to tell me One more story (Like when we were kids and we asked them to repeat some of those stories that dazzled us). “Napo” looks at me… he pauses. Tasting every word she tells: “The battle of 1982 was coming to an end. Some resistance remained in Puerto Argentino. Brigadier Crespo brings us together to order new attacks by the Argentine Air Force. One of the pilots asks the “Cuzco” how many more missions would come out taking into account the British advance. Crespo looks at all the crews and with a deep and confident voice he clarifies: ‘We will continue fighting until the last plane with the last man and the last ammunition from him. And on that last plane, as the last man, I will go to fight.”

The Air Force did not sign the surrender. The “Napo”‘s eyes fill with tears. The same thing happened to me that night and my vision is blurry now that I write these last lyrics. Now I understand why these men, before going on the attack, shouted: “And there is no one who can, damn it!”

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