IN CELEBRATION of 25 years of independence for the Falkland Islands, the News takes a look at one family's experience during the conflict.

Mike Kirkland, Chard Junction, joined the battle aboard HMS Argonaut returning early after a fire swept through the vessel, destroying all of his belongings.

Mike, who was just 20 when the war took place said: "When we left we all felt brilliant, everybody was buzzing - it was what we had trained for. At the time we didn't think the Argentine force would be much to reckon with."

Mike arrived for battle on May 20 and realised how serious the conflict was going to be.

"I thought - it's for real now," remembers Mike.

"At 10am on May 21, the main invasion day, we had our first air attack, with rocket fire and cannon fire. They hit three chaps on deck. That was a real wake up call.

"Then at 2.30pm there was another air attack, they fired 12 bombs, although only two hit. One went in the boiler room which meant we lost all our power.

"We were just left to float and fend for ourselves - like sitting ducks.

"Two men were killed in that attack. The sad part is one had just got married six months before, and the other had turned 18 that day."

HMS Argonaut and her crew suffered another blow just days later, which was a blessing in disguise for Mike as a fire broke out destroying all of Mike's belongings, sending him back home.

Mike finally returned home in the middle of June, to relieved parents and celebrations for his 21st birthday.

He said: "That's when I realised how much people back home had gone through.

"When you're out there you don't think about it - you have a job to do. We didn't realise how much family and everyone were following it. There wasn't news like today, it was all very vague so it was a big deal when people came back home."

Mike, who is married with three children, now works in Yeovil and stepping out of the navy in 1986.

Mike is set to take part in the anniversary parade in London on Sunday, being reunited with fellow crewmembers he hasn't seen for nearly 25 years.

* FOR more on Mike's experience, pick up Wednesday's edition of the News.

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