British soldier David Richardson, who found the fragments of a downed Argentine Air Force Dagger downed by a British Harrier during the 1982 Falklands War, has donated the items to be exhibited at a museum in the province of Córdoba, Argentine ambassador to the United Kingdom, Javier Figueroa announced.
The ambassador said that he extended an invitation to the British soldier to thank him and they agreed to meet when he visits London since the soldier lives outside the city.
Lieutenant Volponi's Mirage V-Dagger. 3 was shot down without the possibility of ejection by an AIM-9L Harrier Sidewinder, commanded by British Lieutenant Martin Hale on May 23, 1982.
In 1998, during a mission to the Falklands, British Corporal Richardson of a Light Infantry Battalion identified the remains of the Argentine plane and decided to preserve them to return them to Argentina.
In 1998, the unit of my Battalion, known as the 1st Light Infantry Battalion, was assigned to the Malvinas / Falkland Islands, the British soldier told Télam. Richardson always used the two denominations “Malvinas / Falklands” (or vice versa) when talking to the Argentine Ambassador and the news service.
Richardson also said he was aged 12 during the war and that he had followed the conflict closely “had read a lot about” it.
After retrieving the items in 1998 and with the help of the internet, Richardson explained it was not hard to find details about the type of plane, who was piloting it, and who was the pilot of the British Harrier that shot it down.
“For many years I took care of the pieces and I often wondered if one day I could take them to Argentina,” he explained. He also pointed out that “in September 2021 I searched the Internet and I managed to find and send a message to Gabriel Fioni, who was part of the Museum Malvinas in Oliva” in the province of Córdoba. Then he said he was delighted to learn that Fioni was in contact with Lieutenant Volponi's family and that if the pieces were donated to the Museum they would be properly exhibited and the story of his pilot's bravery would be told.
Richardson retired from the British Army in 2003, having reached the rank of serjeant, with a J in English, because in his unit that was how it was spelt.
In his letter, Richardson also highlighted the work of Fioni, head of the Malvinas de Oliva Museum Foundation, and that of the brothers Robert and Nick Tozer, the latter for being a founding member of the South Atlantic Council of London and because of his academic research in the United Kingdom, Buenos Aires and the Falkland Islands for the Di Tella Institute.
According to Fioni, Richardson was particularly concerned about the way the plane wreckage was going to be preserved and guarded at the Museum. He told me that he agreed with the procedure that we would carry out and assured me that he highly respected the Argentine soldiers for their bravery and love for their country, he stressed.