Remembering the Gulf War at 30: Allens Parton's Story
Today (28 February) marks the 30th anniversary of the ending of the first Gulf War. Fought in 1990-1991, it was the biggest deployment of the UK Armed Forces since World War II.
About the conflict
The Gulf War started following Iraq’s President Saddam Hussein orders for his troops to invade oil-rich Kuwait on 2 August 1990.
The United Nations (UN) immediately condemned the actions and sanctions were imposed on Iraq to pressure them to withdraw by 15 January 1991.
US President George Bush called for the creation of a multi-national force to deal with Saddam. A total of 430,000 US troops and more than 53,000 British troops were deployed.
When Saddam refused to withdraw from Kuwait, an air assault – known as Operation Desert Storm - was launched against military, economic and communication targets in Iraq and Kuwait.
After a month of airstrikes, land operations (known as Operation Granby to UK troops) started on 24 February. Just a few days later, Kuwait City was liberated.
The conflict ended on 28 February, when Iraq pulled out of the country, and formally accepted cease-fire terms on 6 April.
During the campaign, 392 personnel were killed as a direct result of enemy action, 47 were British personnel.
A further 1000 were wounded, four of which are now Blesma Members. Allen Parton is one of those Members, and here is his story 30 years on…
Blesma Member Allen Parton was left unable to walk, talk or remember much of his life when he was injured in the aftermath of the Gulf War. Then he Met Endal...
Allen Parton was a Chief Petty Officer serving in the Royal Navy during the first Gulf War. He had a promising naval career ahead of him and a wife and two children. During a tragic car accident in the Gulf, Allen suffered a severe head injury that left him unable to walk, talk, read or write. His memory was also wiped. He spent the next five years in hospital struggling to come to terms with his disabilities.
“To this day, the memories haven’t returned. I can’t remember my wedding or my children’s births. Fifty per cent of my life history has gone. I couldn’t read, write, walk or talk, and I lost every human emotion – love, hate, happiness, and sadness. Without one, you can’t be human. I lost all four in one whack!”
The situation left Allen severely depressed. He tried to take his own life on two separate occasions (“It was whilst I was at Headley Court and they saved my life on both occasions!” he says).
Left in “a bubble”, unable to communicate with his wife Sandra or his children Zoe and Liam, he was taken to a day centre, where he sat “in a vegetative state”. It was a quirk of fate that led to Allen meeting a yellow Labrador assistance dog called Endal and which, in turn, would lead to his life changing forever.
One day, the bus that took Allen to the day centre didn’t arrive, and so he ended up attending an assistance dog puppy training class that his wife had signed up for.
“I was shown into this building in Hampshire and there were puppies everywhere,” Allen recalls. “I didn’t respond to any of them, so they weren’t interested in me – all apart from an 11-month-old Labrador called Endal.
“He saw something on the floor by my wheelchair, trotted over, picked it up, and put it in my lap. Even though he didn’t get a treat from me, he kept putting things in my lap until I felt as though I was disappearing under a mound of stuff. Towards the end of the day, he got a smile from me – and that day, he came home with us.”
Endal helped to save Allen’s marriage and rebuild the relationship with his children. He became increasingly independent and his wife was no longer on call twenty-four hours a day allowing her the freedom and peace of mind to pursue her own interests again.
In 2001, Allen was knocked out of his wheelchair by a speeding car and left unconscious. Endal took charge, put Allen into the recovery position, covered him with a blanket and fetched his mobile phone. Getting no response from Allen, Endal went to a nearby hotel and raised the alarm; he probably saved Allen’s life.
This amazing partnership started Allen thinking about setting up a new charity to help disabled personnel from the Armed Forces and Emergency Services. And so, Hounds for Heroes was born.
Hounds for Heroes is now a well-established charity that has placed 15 dogs, or ‘cadets’ as they are called, with suitable owners. Visit www.houndsforheroes.com for more info.