On the day the authorities announced the discovery of the ARA San Juan, the Wagner Clar family and the city of Olavarría were preparing for the next day in Hinojo (party town), in honor of the lieutenant of the ship Diego Wagner Clar, a resident of the city, and his 43 comrades.
The crew of the ARA San Juan would be the protagonists of the ceremony, but it was the neighbors of Olavarría who became part of the tribute during the preparations. Many were those who collaborated with the project initiated by Emilio Wagner-papa de Diego- from a local painter to the municipality itself, by local companies and artists. When the neighbors became aware of Emilio's desire, they became involved with a single goal, build a replica of the ARA San Juan to honor the crew.
On Sunday, November 18, the Hinojo Amphitheater was full, as were the surrounding streets. After hearing the 44 bells that sounded to remind the crew of the San Juan, and the verses of the national anthem, the long-awaited moment came, Emilio and Catalina – the parents of Diego – the intendant Ezequiel Galli and Diego & # 39; s classmates. They discovered the replica of the ARA San Juan, which took 3 and a half months to build. At that time, the release of pigeons allowed them to fly to heaven while those present sang the song of the Navy. "Long live the homeland! Long live the ARA San Juan! Long live our 44 heroes!" Shouted an excited Diego teammate.
The replica is almost 10 meters long and was located in the amphitheater Roge Lacoste de Hinojo. There were many people who became involved, friends or simple strangers who made their work, heart and emotions available. "It was done with a lot of love and with lots of tears they were all gifts," Emilio Wagner told DEF. "We would not have done anything without the neighbors," he said.
Mayor Galli, for his part, claimed: "From the moment we knew we had an Olavarrian in the crew of the ARA San Juan, the commotion was even greater. Knowing his life story, his sacrifice to come where he wanted, knowing his dreams through his family, let his name be heard in every house and school in Olavarría.".
Major non-commissioned officer Juan Carlos Sampaoli, also born in Olavarría, said: "It was our destiny that our calling as sailors and submariners brought us here today to remember and honor all these sailors who fulfilled their duty to the utmost sacrifice. Diego, who was an excellent soldier, of impeccable behavior, and a great professional. (…) Honor and glory for Diego and his 43 comrades ".
The lieutenant of Fernando Barra, friend and companion of Diego Wagner's promotion, remembered it in dialogue with DEF: "He was very modest, very attached to the profession and to the family, his passion was the submarine. He arrived from sailing, we came together and he told us an anecdote after an anecdote. I lived near my house in Mar del Plata, your children today are like my cousins. He was my brother of the heart. & # 39;
During the tribute, a plaque with the name of the crew was also discovered, together with the work of a local artist, Ignacio Cardiello: a sea lion, symbol of the ARA San Juan. In the act, staff of the Argentine navy placed an image of the virgin Stella Maris (employer of the Force) at the foot of the plate. The artist Jano Chasman gave the parents of Diego another plaque, which will be placed on the replica.
During the ceremony, 3 of the 44 trees that will grow were planted symbolically.
"It is practically impossible to be saved"
Once the act was over, DEF communicated with Emilio Wagner. Moved by the love of his city and by finding ARA San Juan, the father of the submarine crew was grateful for the help received and remembered the calling of his son's service.
– How did he live? How did the idea come to bring about the tribute?
– With a lot of emotion. It was very strong for us. On one occasion we went from Mar del Plata to Olavarría. I was very sad with my wife. Suddenly a cloud appeared in the form of a submarine between Balcarce and Tandil. I felt that my son asked me something. That led me to do the replica, I wanted to do something strong that would continue to exist over the years. That's why I thought about making the iron.
– Did I have experience with working with these types of materials?
-No, I had never worked with that material, I am not a welder. I noticed a neighbor, Gonzalez, who sells irons near the house. I asked him if he had any leftovers and he promised to help me. That same day I contacted other people from the Industrial Park. When I told them what I wanted to do, they suggested doing something bigger, important. I told them I had no idea, but they told me they were sure I would reach it. They gave me two large cylinders, another person lent me a place to work, even the tools. I stood next to the cylinders and did not know what to do. I had no idea.
– Who helped him in that phase?
– A boy who studied technology gave me a hand to cut the cylinders, he made a few designs for me. Then I called Ariel Do Santos, Diego's friend, because I saw that I simply could not. None of us knew how to weld, but we started pushing. On more than one occasion, we did not know how to proceed. And we asked the boys for help, at 44. We even cried, we could not. We asked them and immediately the ideas appeared. I think the submarine did the 44. It was done with a lot of love and with lots of tears. They were all donations. There were people who helped us to transport it, they caught it and painted it. He does not know what emotion and love they have done …
– It can be said that the whole city has participated …
– The people of Olavarría have given us love and affection. They donated 44 trees, even the owner of one of the nurseries personally planted them. We had done nothing without the neighbors.
– How did they live the discovery of the submarine?
-A as a father, no matter how much they tell him what happened, he always has a slight hope. When the Navy reported that they had found it, it was as if they had told us that they had died at that moment. It was terrible, it was a very hard battle. Only now can we make our duel. Diego has an extraordinary wife, Carolina. She is a great mother who is now fighting in Mar del Plata, she is only taken up by the other boys in the navy, the naval family. If we can, we try to travel to be with her and my grandchildren.
– Do you think of the possibility of storing the submarine?
– It is practically impossible to save him. The submarine weighs thousands of tons and is very deep. I believe that the boys are not there, they became matter. They raised body and soul to heaven. Diego is resting in the Argentine Sea … I live it from the first moment. He would have liked to leave alone, let him rest there. We never wanted to disturb the memory of our son, because we know that if Diego returned, he would immediately have deployed a new submarine. They enter the navy for the love they have for the fatherland, not for money. Diego had the ability to get a job in a merchant navy, but he gave up with a better pass to continue in his beloved navy. He was a sailor in heart and soul. Even on the last trip, he told his wife that he was going for them all, for him and to defend them all. Those were the last words Diego had with him.
We as parents, and of the pain, we have not clearly seen what happened. Then I could reason and I started to rewind everything Diego said: how dangerous it is to navigate in a submarine, the pressure … Diego knew it, and he told me that if something happened to them, it was very difficult was to come out alive. I told him to leave, to defend the fatherland in a different way. But for him it was a great honor to be a diver. For me, my son is a national hero. I live with terrible pride.
– Do you think that with the disappearance of ARA San Juan, we Argentines could become aware of the importance of our sources?
– People became aware of how important it is to have military forces. The submarine protected our sea, our border. There is a before and after this, let's hope.