Meet Neil – our very own Falklands War Veteran

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Neil Binder is our Recruitment Resourcer and an integral part of the V.E.T.S. team. He is also part of the ‘Class of 82’ and a true war hero serving in the Royal Navy through the Falklands War. Ton fidn out more about him and his exceptional career, read on…

VETS prides itself as being ‘the’ recruitment agency for Veterans.  Can you please tell us about your military history?

I joined the Royal Navy straight from school at 16½ years old as a JWEM2 (Junior Weapons Engineering Mechanic class 2). I travelled to HMS Raleigh to commence basic training on 13th October 1980 before passing out in late November. From here I was drafted to HMS Collingwood for technical training. On completion of this training I spent several months at the Joint Services Sailing Centre (JSSC Hornet) at Gosport awaiting my first sea going draft.

In January 1982 I joined HMS Antrim just prior to my 18th birthday a few weeks later. The ship sailed for a NATO exercise (Stanavformed) before having a few days in Gibraltar, it was here that we were informed that Argentine Forces had landed in The Falkland Islands and we were being dispatched post haste as advanced fleet along with 2 other warships and auxiliary support to rendezvous with the RN’s ice ship HMS Endurance.

A few weeks later the first actions took place with the ship being involved in Operation Paraquet (liberation of South Georgia). Once this was completed, we were tasked to meet up with the rest of the Task Force to head to The Falkland Islands as part of Operation Corporate.

Our ship was heavily involved in the landings and subsequent liberation of the islands though did not come out unscathed. We were hit with a 1000lb bomb which entered via the rear mounted missile launcher passing part way through the main missile magazine before being  propelled by a damaged hydraulic hose through the deckhead (ceiling) to come to rest in the after heads (junior rates toilets at the rear of the ship). The bomb did not explode and was eventually removed by bomb disposal operatives. We also sustained quite a bit of damage from 30mm cannon fire along the sides of the ship and had to undergo some emergency repairs to allow us to get back in the fight.

On return to the U.K. I found myself in a bit of trouble through drink and was sentenced to 56 days in Royal Navy Detention Quarters.

To move on quite quickly from this point I served on several other ships through the subsequent years including HMS Amazon, HMS Birmingham (trip number 2 to The Falkland Islands) & RFA Diligence (trip number 3 to The Falkland Islands) as well as shore drafts to Portsmouth FMG (Fleet Maintenance Group) and 2 stints at the shore wireless station HMS Inskip before leaving the service in May 1987 as a confirmed WEM(R)1 though I did act up to A/LWEM(R) on a number of occasions.

What is the proudest moment from your military career?

Without a shadow of doubt being part of the Task Force that liberated The Falkland Islands from Argentine occupation. I am a very proud member of “The Class of ‘82”.

What did you find particularly easy and difficult about adjusting to life back on ‘Civvy Street’?

Like many service people I had not really known “Civvy Street” until I left the Navy due to joining up at such a young age, but quite simply I still cannot get my head around the mentality of Civvies.

It seems that there is a me, me, me and “sod” everyone else attitude where there is very little support or assistance from peers unless they too have a service background.

I am pleased to say however, that some of this attitude has diminished during the current pandemic and people are becoming more understanding and helpful.

What advice would you give to candidates who are looking to use their military skills?

Do not underestimate who you are or what you are capable of.

Leave no stone unturned and never miss an opportunity (Service people have been conditioned to be more vigilant and to go the extra mile to help out friends and colleagues – do not lose that ethos, it makes us who we are).

How did you meet Paul and how did you become involved in the business?

Following a major heart attack in March 2018 and several months recovering I was informed by my doctor and consultant that I was unable to return to the industry I had worked in for over 30 years I decided that I wanted to give something back and become more involved with Military veterans. I became a SSAFA caseworker, got more involved with the local branch of The Royal British Legion (am now Treasurer & Parade Marshall) and then I heard that the Wolverhampton AFVBC was to hold its inaugural breakfast club in February of 2019 this is where I met Paul and things moved on from there.

Following much badgering from my wife (to both me & Paul) about getting an almost full-time job Paul asked me to come and work within Veterans Employment & Training Solutions as a recruitment resource and the rest is history.

What are our passions outside of work?

I enjoy spending time with my wife, grown up children and my 2 granddaughters as well as having days out. We have become members of the National Trust and The Black Country Living Museum enjoy visits as often as possible.

My work for SSAFA and TRBL are both very dear to me especially Remembrance Day parades, Armed Forces Day and attending the final journey of Military brothers and sisters.

But most of all is the sense of fulfilment I get in “giving back” and the support of veterans both young & old.