A naval chef and a Royal Naval senior officer on Olympics duty in Dorset were reunited more than 30 years after meeting during the Falklands conflict.
Commodore James Miller, Naval Regional Commander for Wales and Western England, and Chief Petty Officer Cook Martin Etwell, of Royal Fleet Auxiliary Mounts Bay, which has been supporting the Olympic sailing security operation in Portland Weymouth, were reunited on board the vessel after their first encounter on board another RFA ship.
In 1982, Martin, then a Junior Cook and Baker, was serving on RFA Fort Austin in San Carlos. Commodore Miller was serving nearby as a Spanish interpreter on board HMS Coventry, when the ship was hit and sunk on 25th May 1982. He was one of about 270 survivors (and 19 dead) who were rescued and evacuated the next day by the landing craft of 4 Assault Squadron Royal Marines to RFA Fort Austin.
Commodore Miller said: “The landing craft that transferred us to the loving care on board RFA Fort Austin was sadly sunk a week later in San Carlos. Her crew of six, who were all killed, are still remembered to this day by 4 Assault Squadron who always name one of their landing craft Foxtrot Juliet after Colour Sergeant Johnson, holder of the Queen’s Gallantry Medal, who died that day.”
The landing craft of the same unit, 4 Assault Squadron, are embarked with the Fleet Flagship, HMS Bulwark, operated as the command and control vessel for Operation Olympics and now for the Paralympics. The reunion between the two Falklands veterans took place on board RFA Mounts Bay as Commodore Miller hosted a group of distinguished military visitors on board RFA Mounts Bay and then escorted them to HMS Bulwark to witness the Olympic security operations.
Reminiscing on their previous meeting, Chief Etwell, who has served in the RFA for 41 years, remembered that each person on board shared their cabins with a survivor and that meal routines were changed to accommodate the survivors. He said: “Our team of 11 chefs cooked up a daily casserole instead of the usual evening meal in order to eke out our rations to feed 140 people.”
Cdre Miller said “It is good to see Chief Cook Martin Etwell still doing his cooking job, feeding 463 people everyday, while staying cheerful, humorous, and a good leader. He represents everything we had in the Falklands.”