Both faced each other in the war in one of the last Argentine counterattacks. And they told this episode in two books. Forty years later they met face to face. The Argentine is Victor Hugo Rodriguez (73) and English Philip Neame (76). “It was a magnanimous act of mutual Christian love,” described the Argentine.
Six months ago they had met by video, in a communication in which both families participated. A few weeks ago it came to Rodriguez an invitation to participate in Great Britain in a presentation of the English veteran’s book, entitled Penal company of the Falklands. A memoir of the parachute regiment at war 1982.
They met this Friday at a hotel in London, where the event was held. Rodriguez he took his Carrying the country on the shoulderedited last year.
The British arrived with only one suitcase. He lives two hundred kilometers from the capital. He is the youngest son of a lieutenant general, decorated with the Victoria Cross for his performance during World War I and was also a gold medalist in shooting at the 1924 Olympics.
A Rodriguez They had warned him that the hug is not contemplated in the English greeting convention, but nevertheless when he saw him enter he did it and the Englishman reciprocated. Then they shook hands.
Malvinas unites them not only because they are both veterans of that war. Victor Hugo Rodriguezthen 32 years old, led one of the last Argentine counterattacks against a group from Company D of 2 Para, commanded by Philip Neamefrom 36.
At ten o’clock at night on June 13, the Argentine received a suicide order: the sections were to move north, to the heights of Wireless Ridge to carry out a counterattack and support the 7th Regiment in its withdrawal movement.
Hugh McMannerin his book The Scars of Warwhich reproduces Rodriguez in his book, he recalled: “we were in a vacant area with no support, and it seemed as if ten or eleven rifle platoons were shooting at us. Several conscripts of the first lieutenant Rodriguez Perezbelonging to Regiment 3, without being seen, took up position on the rocks where Company “D” belonging to the British Major Neame had been before. We asked the elderPhilip Neame), about going back and retaking our position. He stumbled out of position without caring about the projectiles hitting all around him and then returned…”
Forty years later, Neame confessed to Rodriguez: “we were exhausted and we wanted to reorder ourselves”. That impasse gave the Argentine time to fall back and save many of his men.
Both moved to tears, the Englishman laughed heartily when he saw the gift that the Argentine had brought him. He several times he had described Malvinas like a horrible and miserable swamp and like a wet peat bog, and that their shoes were not the right ones, but the ones used by Argentines. “I brought the solution to your problem,” he told her, and took a pair of brand-new boots from a bag, which Neame baptized “Argentine boots.”
Rodríguez was accompanied by his wife Grace. He planned to wear a jacket and green shirt but knowing the British formality, he opted for a jacket and a dress shirt. It was an emotional moment for everyone, where at various times during the meeting the translator had a hard time fulfilling her task.
Neame confessed to Rodriguez that when they were mobilized they did not know if they were being sent to a Scottish island or if they were going to the end of the world. He described what his moves had been in that fight at Wireless Ridge, and that I was in command of D Company, which was the one they sent to the worst places. “No commander always has all the resources he needs. They had that problem too.” Rodriguez.
With the help of maps and graphs, both explained their movements and the alternatives of combat, in those last hours of the war.
The Argentine took a frustration from the match, which lasted almost two hours. He wanted to know the identity of the English sniper who avoided shooting the soldiers who came to the rescue of Sgt. Manuel Villegas. Nevertheless, Neame He said he didn’t remember.
Villegas he had been wounded in the stomach and arm. The soldiers tries Y serrizuelaBraving enemy fire, they picked him up and carried him eight kilometers to the hospital in Puerto Argentino, despite the wounded man’s orders to leave him there.
Rodriguez told him that Villegas he married, had children and became a grandfather. “I couldn’t take that epic goal that they had proposed to me; so much Villegas Like the soldiers who saved him, they deserved it.” After the meeting, he spoke with his soldiers and they all considered that everything possible had been done to identify this man, whom they only wish to thank.
Neame he served for twenty years as a paratrooper and for his performance in the South Atlantic War he deserved to be mentioned in the reports of his superiors. After he retired in 1994 he went into private practice and created the Ulysses Trust, an organization that provides financial assistance for expeditions and adventure activities involving members of the United Kingdom’s volunteer reserve force and cadet forces. United.
Rodriguez he was head of the first section of company A of the 3rd infantry regiment. He was decorated with a special mention, he is the founder and president of the Sanmartiana Cultural Association Cradle of the Flag, from Rosario. He was the leader of 25 expeditions on the back of a mule in the recreation of the crossing of the Andes.
In the lines he dedicated to her in the book he gave her, he wrote that “Only good men can cross those borders imposed by combat”. Neamein his book, expressed being “very happy to meet again after forty years, in better circumstances than those in which our paths crossed.”
“This thing of getting to know each other,” he remarked. Rodriguez– It is typical of the human being and the soldier inside and outside the battlefield, and in the combat objectives, he fighting for the queen and me for the history of my country.
Malvinas is essential and lasting and this meeting, for the Argentine, was “unique and unrepeatable. It helped me to position my head and my heart, ”he stressed. God wanted us to stay alive and today we are honoring that life. The war was one more step in our existence.” Neame He stressed putting aside the past and looking forward and said that for him it was “an honor and a privilege to speak with victor hugo like a friend.
The Argentine invited him to the next mule crossing of the Andes. “Maybe I’ll go,” said the Englishman. Unintentionally, a war had managed to unite them.
A suicide mission and hell on Wireless Ridge: the all-or-nothing counterattack on the last day of the war
Argentine and English Malvinas veterans in an emotional meeting: “We knew war, we love peace”