THIS WEEK IN 1992: AWOL bid to escape the war hero image

A Gulf War hero who jumped ship prepared to face the music as his parents told how his courage backfired on him.

Sunday, 17th June 2018, 7:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 19th June 2018, 4:46 pm
jpns 160618 retro 2018 Hero - Steven Hawkeye Bunbury jumped ship in daring escapade off the Isle of Man

Teenage sailor Steven Bunbury lived with a ‘Hawkeye’ tag since spotting a deadly missile about to hit a giant American battleship.

His parents said the strain of living up to the image of a war hero drove him to stage a daring ‘escape’ from the Portsmouth-based destroyer HMS Gloucester.

Able Seaman Bunbury, 18, faced disciplinary action after he and a ship-mate plunged from the ship and swam 600 yards to a quiet beach in the Isle of Man.

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An air and sea search was launched when the pair were discovered missing.

The runaways were arrested as they stepped off a ferry at Heysham, Lancs.

Steven first hit headlines in the Gulf War the year before when he was on radar duty in HMS Gloucester. He spotted an Iraqi Silkworm missile aimed at the allied fleet, and it was shot down only seconds from impact with the American battleship USS Missouri.

It earned him the nickname Hawkeye – and the hero image which dogged him ever since, said his parents.