Tomorrow 28 years will have passed since the Battle of Checkpoint Pasta, the firefight between the Italian troops in Mogadishu and the Somali rebels, in which the three Italian soldiers Andrea Millevoi, Stefano Paolicchi, Pasquale Baccaro were killed and over twenty were injured. But Lieutenant Colonel Gianfranco Paglia, a paratrooper from the Folgore who was seriously injured in the spine and has since been confined to a wheelchair, still has those dramatic moments before his eyes: “The anti-tank missile that hit our vehicle, the death of Baccaro, first injured. It is something that cannot be forgotten, we weren’t able to bring everyone home “. That battle was the first after the Second World War and it is “important to remember what happened on July 2, 1993. It is a duty for those who lived that experience, for those who returned home alive, for the three dead Millevoi, Paolicchi and Baccaro “. And it is also necessary to learn from past experiences. “The hope is that Afghanistan will not become a second Somalia”, underlines Lieutenant Colonel Paglia after the end, with the return yesterday of the last Italian soldier, of the Resolute Support mission, which took over from the ISAF mission on 1 January 2015. “I want to clarify that the Minister of Defense Guerini has been quite clear on this, he has spent himself in making sure that NATO does not forget Afghanistan. He has clarified that there will be a collaboration and the fact that he has brought home about 300 Afghans – he continues referring to the humanitarian evacuation of Afghan civilian personnel who have supported the Italian contingent over time – is a step of great respect and civility “. So do not forget so as not to repeat what happened in Somalia: “After two and a half years it was abandoned and after 20 years we returned to Mogadishu again, but in all these years the terrorists have done what they wanted; the real danger is this “. Lieutenant Colonel Paglia, despite the serious injuries sustained in the Battle of the Pastificio, never gave up his commitment: “I was lucky, I came back alive. The General Staff gave me the opportunity to wear the uniform again, to return to operational theaters “. The missions are “important to try to restore peace in war-torn countries; this is not always possible, but international organizations have an obligation to try. Since 1993 as armed forces we have made great strides, in Somalia we were with conscripts, volunteers, while with professionals it is possible to achieve better results “. Tomorrow in Siena there will be a commemoration for the fallen in the Battle of Checkpoint Pasta. “We must keep their memory alive – underlines Lieutenant Colonel Paglia – And we must not forget the story”.
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