Heroes of Seville #03: The Legionnaire

Everyone knows that during the fateful night of the #SevilleDisaster, the capital of Andalusia was immersed in a battle like humankind had never been involved before. A battle in which Spanish soldiers and pilots were the main protagonists. We have been talking for several days about the many anonymous heroes of Seville, people who sacrificed everything to help others. That is why today we want to dedicate our new issue of the special ‘Heroes of Seville’ to one of the hundreds of legionary knights who fought and sacrificed his life to save the lives of others.

This is the story of Javier, a legionary knight with the rank of first corporal and member of the ‘Alejandro Farnesio’ Tercio of the Legion. He was one of the eight hundred legionnaires who were airlifted to Seville. They were the first ground forces to arrive and fight against the terrible alien forces of 2012 AU. The chronicle that we have prepared has been made thanks to the testimonies of friends, family, fellow legionaries, as well as witnesses of his time in Seville and exclusive recordings that we have obtained from the military communications made during the night of the #SevilleDisaster.

Javier was twenty-four years old. He was a native of a small town in Jaén and the son of a humble family dedicated to agriculture. His parents talk about him with pride. They say that he was always a very hardworking boy, since he was a kid he helped every day in the field. In studies he was not brilliant, since he preferred physical work and sports, he was a staunch supporter of Real Madrid. That is why at the age of sixteen he decided to leave the school to focus on working in the field with his father and brothers. His friends remember him fondly, he was a not very talkative boy but he always gave a hand to anyone who asked him.

The surprise in the family came when, upon reaching the age of majority, Javier informed them of his decision to enlist in the Legion. Since he was little he had been a fan of war films and had always admired the military. He assured that it was his true vocation and that his dream was to pursue a military career as a legionary knight. His physical appearance after so many years of effort in the field made him ideal.

He did his training in Melilla where he demonstrated his great passion and dedication to the legionary creed. Once completed, he asked to be assigned to the Tercio ‘Alejandro Farnesio’ in Ronda, Málaga. In the years that followed he was promoted from private to First Corporal. A special record for him was the year he spent in Afghanistan integrated into the ISAF at the Qala-e-Naw base. In that destination he had to enter combat on more than one occasion to repel attacks by Taliban insurgents, killing two of them during a confrontation. His companions assure him that he was a great soldier, with well-tempered nerves and that he knew how to maintain his composure when the situation got bad.

The legionnaire knight Javier in the background during a patrol in Afghanistan

Javier and his platoon mates from the Tercio ‘Alejandro Farnesio’ were mobilized somewhat before the 2012 UA shot down the two F-18 fighters of the Air Force that tried to intercept it over Seville before it began its attack on the city. They tell us that he was a little nervous, but who couldn’t be, they admit. They had almost no information, they only knew that they would possibly be deployed in Seville to repel an unknown hostile force. They knew that two hundred companions had just left for Seville by helicopter and that they would also be airlifted. They confess to us that normally for this type of operations they used Super Puma helicopters, but that the commanders had informed them that due to the nature of their mission they were going to send them several Chinooks, with greater capacity.

During the flight to Seville, everyone’s nervousness increased, as the rumors coming from the city of Seville were becoming more and more confusing. The only thing they were certain about was that they were going to find themselves in a situation of total war. Something like they had never seen before, but their determination was maximum. They had been trained and forged to be the first to arrive and the first to show their face. Without a doubt, Javier fervently believed in that, since the legionary creed obliges. His colleagues say that despite his prevailing nervousness, he seemed calm and in good spirits. He wanted to enter combat and be able to prove his worth.

The moments after his deployment to Seville are somewhat confusing. From what we know, Javier was “released” near the Santa Justa train station. Together with his platoon he headed towards San Francisco Javier Avenue. We know that his objective was to control the intersection of said avenue with Luis Montoto. Witnesses we have spoken to have told us what happened when they arrived. From what we can see, Javier and his companions established their position in one of the corners of the intersection. They were equipped with two missile launchers and from what they tell us they had to go into action very quickly.

Archive image of the legionary knight Javier during some maneuvers

Witnesses say that one of the so-called alien “spiders” approached the crossing and that the legionnaires fired two missiles at it. Then there was a big flash and a loud explosion and where they had been there was only a crater and flames. From what we can see, Javier managed to survive the attack; he was the only one in his platoon who did so. He managed to crawl to the entrance of the Meliá Los Lebreros hotel, whose doors had been barred and blocked with several sofas and chairs.

The next thing we know is thanks to María, a twenty-seven-year-old girl from Cádiz who was five months pregnant, who was with her little sister Rocío taking refuge at a bus stop in front of one of the entrances to the Nervión Plaza shopping center on the same San Francisco Javier avenue. María had sprained her ankle and suffered a severe blow when she fell after the attack began. She had been trapped there for more than an hour. Waiting for an ambulance to arrive or get a car that could take her to a hospital. She was desperate and nervous.

She tells us how she saw Javier appear on the opposite sidewalk. His face was slightly bruised and there was a trickle of blood running down it. She says he was holding his assault rifle tightly in one hand and in the other he had a radio that he appeared to be talking to. His face was worried. He kept looking towards them and to his left. With all the noise of explosions they had not realized what was happening. The same “spider” that had killed Javier’s companions was slowly approaching where they were.

What follows is a transcript of the recording of a series of military communications from that night. Specifically, Javier’s conversation with the command of the operation at the Morón Air Base.

<<‘This is Paladin 4-7, my platoon has fallen. I repeat, my entire platoon is down. There are no survivors. We have tried to shoot down one of the enemy’s armored air units without success. He has returned fire with some sort of energy weapon. Is anyone receiving me? I can’t return to the deployment point, that thing is blocking my path, I’m going to advance south to see how to get around it.’>>

It seems that at this point the transmissions were not going well, since we only heard Javier and we do not know if Morón’s command answers him. The communication continues a few minutes later.

<<‘Morón Command, this is Paladin 4-7, I request urgent air support over my location. 37º 23’ 03.19” North, 5º 58’ 22.58” West. Armored aerial unit threatening two civilians, including a pregnant woman.’

‘Morón command here, location confirmed. We convey your request. We cannot provide E.T.A.’

‘Command of Morón, Paladin 4-7, negative, I need immediate intervention. I see many birds above my head. Report immediately, it’s a matter of seconds before that thing sees the civilians.’

‘Paladin 4-7, this is Morón Command, this is Colonel Luis Hidalgo, the situation is very chaotic. We have just reported your situation, Barracuda 3-7 and Delfin 1-7 have responded, they will take at least a minute to start their attack. Take cover.’

‘Negative Colonel Hidalgo, there is no time, the civilians will be hit by the enemy unit!’

‘Paladin 4-7, then you will have to buy them time. Good luck soldier.’

‘Understood Morón’s command. Start distraction maneuver. Hurry up!’>>

In Javier’s words you can see desperation, but also a firm determination. Immediately afterwards, María and her sister saw how Javier began to run down his sidewalk towards the “spider” while he fired with his G36 assault rifle. This she stopped her advance and faced him. They could see how Javier disappeared down Martínez de Medina street. The “spider” turned to follow him. Then they could see how it opened fire and rapid flashes of light emerged from it, followed by the roars of the explosions caused by its impacts.

We believe that it was at that moment when Javier died, hit by the “spider”’s shots. His death was not in vain, according to María and Rocío’s story, the time he gained to distract her served to save their lives. Well, a few moments later two planes attacked the “spider” and it rose to follow them, completely ignoring the two girls.

Tribute to the legionnaires who fell in the battle of #SevillaDisaster

Javier’s case is not an isolated one, there were many soldiers, both from the Legion and other units, who gave their lives during #SevillaDisaster. Without a doubt, Javier is a great example of being the first to arrive, the first to fight, despite being in a crushing inferiority. All of them have become heroes of Seville. And yes, in case anyone was wondering, María has confessed to us that she has decided to name her son Javier when he is born. She and her sister were able to be evacuated to one of the field hospitals and today María and her baby are out of danger.