February 23, 1981: Where were you? 3

Well I wasn’t actually playing basketball because the soldiers actually burst into the chamber at 6:20p.m., and with the six hour difference I actually would have been asleep by then.  Spain hardly crossed my mind back then, and if I even knew where it was at all it was due to the fact I liked history because, otherwise, forget it.

            The first couple of minutes of the coup are now classic as they were filmed live on TV.  The leader of the group went by the last name of Lieutenant-Colonel Antonio Tejero.  He already had a reputation for being a sneaky untrustworthy type, just the kind who might like to topple a democratically elected government when things got rough.  He had already been in jail for seven months two years before.  So, when Tejero and his gain riddled the ceiling with bullets, everyone jumped for cover except for three extraordinarily ballsy characters: acting Prime Minister Adolfo Suarez, Communist Party leader Santiago Carrillo and the Minister of Defence Manuel Gutiérrez Mellado, a salty 69-year-old veteran who was not about to put with that kind of crap from some insurgents, and resisted his subordinates’ attempts to throw him to the floor.  The man became an instant hero.   Meanwhile in Valencia, a section of the division there joined the uprising and sent tans into the streets.  All of Spain held its breath.

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