Manuel Martín-Oar

Manuel Martín-Oar

Spanish Naval Captain Manuel Martín-Oar (1947–2003) died from injuries sustained in the truck bomb attack on the United Nations' Baghdad headquarters on Tuesday August 19, 2003, which killed 24 people. He was working for the Spanish special ambassador to Iraq, Miguel Benzo Perea.

Captain Martín-Oar was born in Madrid and has four children. He had held various positions including one with the United Nations as well having been the assistant director of the Military Naval School in Madrid. His colleagues called him "easygoing", a good talker, and a big art fan. Although the first to die in Iraq, Captain Martín-Oar was the 86th in a line of Spanish casualties in the past decade on peace missions, according to the Spanish ministry of defense, including 62 servicemen who were killed when an Ukrainian-made aircraft flying them back from Afghanistan crashed in Turkey in May 2003.

Political impact

The death of Captain Martín-Oar, Spain's first fatality in Iraq, shocked his country and opposition parties swiftly called for a parliamentary debate in the belief that Spanish forces should be brought home. The president of the Socialist Party (PSOE), José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, called for a parliamentary debate "leading to the exit" of Spanish forces, and a far left leader, Gaspar Llamazares, demanded "the abandonment of Spanish engagement in the occupation of Iraq and the return of the soldiers."

Martín-Oar's widow, Emilia Ripoll, sent a press release to Europa Press in which she and her children express their deep pride in Sr. Martín-Oar's devoted service in the cause of peace, "...deep gratitude for the support and caring of the Government of Spain, especially of the Ministry of Defense and the Armed Forces..". She further said "The Government does not deserve the criticism that it is receiving. My husband totally was identified with the position of the Government of Spain in this conflict." Sra. Ripoll remembers the "enthusiasm" of her husband for the mission in Iraq. "When he left for Baghdad, he was unusually excited...very happy and interested in the work that was being undertaken. He said that that country [Iraq] would shortly become a true paradise because it had everything it needed ....fertile soil, hard-working, intelligent people ... He knew that he was taking part in that transformation and that made him very proud".

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