Former British Soldier of Falklands War on his way to ‘beat his demons’

Falklands War

A former British soldier is tormented by the death of a 20 years old Argentine Marine whom he stabbed with his bayonet in the Falklands War of 1982.

An Argentine Marine Joes Luis Galarza was stabbed by a former British Scots Guard Gordon Hoggan during the Falklands War of 1982. However, Hoggan was not aware with the identity of his enemy whom he killed during the war. It was his contact with the newspaper agency that he came to know later about the Argentine Marine and his family.

This killing of Argentine Marine has tormented Hoggan for many years after the war. In order to overcome this trauma he wanted to search the identity of the man he killed and also wished to visit the dead enemy soldier’s family and return them their son’s helmet.

With the help of the newspaper agency it was confirmed that the dead Argentine Marine was Joes Luis Galarza. Galarza after completing his graduation from high school went to serve the compulsory military service for Argentina. He was very fond of guitar. He was a dominator in the Fifth Marine Infantry Battalion. When he was 20 years old he took his last breath on 14th June 1982.

Moreover the newspaper agency could also able to find out his father and sisters. Galarza’s family lives in Duggan, a place which is not too far from Buenos Aires. His father Miguel Galarza broke into tears when asked about his dead son and his helmet. His father said: “Of course I want the helmet.” He went so emotional that he did not want to discuss about his son’s death with the journalists. He finds himself happy to see the photographs of his smiling son in uniform. He said: “I remember him like this.”

On the other side Hoggan who is at present 55 years old told AFP that he is preparing himself to visit the Galarza family although he still not decided his date of journey to Argentina. Hoggan said: “The family would like to meet me, as well as the veterans’ association that the guy would have been in, his regiment.”

He also said: “I’m happy. I think it’s going to be closure for me. I want to go ahead and do it; I want to beat my demons.”

Hoggan told AFP that how difficult it was for him to cope with the terrifying nightmares which haunted him even still 32 years after that day. He was so tormented by Galarza’s death that he went through nervous breakdown in 2001. Then he faced homelessness on London’s streets for 18 months. And at last he went under a treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder, The Guardian reports

He said: “I’d like to return them the helmet, for closure on my behalf. They may not want it. They’d probably hate me. I killed their son, or brother. But I would like to explain to them why it happened.”

In 1982 during the seven hour long battle Hoggan was fighting against the Argentine forces. At that time he noticed that in a nearby cave two soldiers from opposition were taking their position. Unfortunately He was seen by these two enemy soldiers. And the moment Hoggan took out his rifle it got jammed.

Hoggan said: “I didn’t have time to take the magazine off and clear it, so I lunged forward with my bayonet, stabbed him in the neck and he never had a chance to fire. It was him or me.”

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE