Andy Julien was 18 years old and had been serving in Iraq for two months with the Queen’s Royal Lancers when his Challenger tank came under fire south of Basra. Andy and Lance Corporal Daniel Twiddy had been asleep on top of the tank when they were attacked. An eyewitness later told a Ministry of Defense board of inquiry that after “the boom of a heavy weapon and a bright flash of light” the tank became “an exploding ball of fire.” Andy and Daniel were thrown to the ground, engulfed in flames. Two of their fellow soldiers were killed inside the tank on impact.
Now here’s the really hilarious part: Andy’s tank had come under fire from allied troops. This incident was caused by what was described in the inquiry as a “catalog of errors.” The laws of combat immunity protect the identities of those responsible for the attack, so nobody will be charged. In fact, Andy has heard rumors that since the incident, crew members of the tank that fired on him have been promoted.
After mistakenly informing his parents of his death, the Ministry of Defense flew Andy back to Broomfield Hospital in Essex. His mother and father did not initially recognize the swollen, bloody heap of flesh that they were told was their son. After 20 operations and six months in a wheelchair, Andy was medically discharged from the army without even the offer of a desk job.