Falklands veteran reunited with downed pilot; ‘failed to kill him a second time’
A veteran soldier has offered a heart-felt apology, after being reunited with an Argentinian pilot he shot down during the Falklands conflict. Despite being given the chance to put thirty years of doubt and remorse behind him, retired Corporal Jim Westbury failed once again to kill the slippery foe in front of gathered local media.
Westbury was given a powerful weapon during the 1982 fun-size skirmish, a weapon he recalls fondly. ‘We didn’t have ‘Medal of Honor’ in my day’, explained the father of two, ‘back then if you were bored, you had to join the armed forces and hope it kicked off somewhere nice.’
Westbury’s eldest son has often questioned his father about the incident, before exaggerating about it online. ‘When Andy’s been shooting strangers on his Xbox, he’ll often ask me ‘did you kill anyone in the face with a missile, daddy?’ It’s a terrible thing to admit, but I used to lie to the little chap. I gave him the impression I’d mowed down hundreds.’
But Westbury’s dark secret couldn’t stay hidden forever. Despite witnessing the Argentinian jet billowing smoke and spiralling to earth, the young soldier couldn’t be sure that the pilot had spent his dying moments in agony, trapped in the burning, twisted wreckage.
‘My boys wanted to believe it was true, but there was always that nagging doubt’, admitted Westbury. ‘Then one day I got the call I’d feared. The pilot was alive and wanted to meet me. What was I supposed to do? Admit to the kids I’d only ever very seriously wounded someone?’
Westbury had promised his family that he would try and make amends during the two hour meeting, but had to settle for swapping a teatowel of Wigan for a Fray Bentos pie in front of a studio audience. ‘There was a teaspoon on my saucer, a teaspoon my kids think I could easily have used to kill a man. But somehow, it just didn’t feel right.’
Against all odds, the former enemies not only survived the meeting, but became friends. ‘We’ve swapped numbers’, revealed Westbury, ‘He’s phoned me twice already. I told his son it was a lucky shot, and he assured my two that his ass still really hurts. It’s important for youngsters to have role models they can look up to.’Click to send this story to a friend
Posted: Jan 18th, 2012 by waylandsmithy
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