'Band of Brothers' in UN role
Published 23/06/2011 | 05:00
TWO hundred members of the Defence Forces flew to south Lebanon yesterday to take up peacekeeping duties.
They are part of the 104th battalion, which will serve with the Unifil mission in an area stretching down to the Blue Line, the border with Israel.
Irish troops had previously served with Unifil from 1978 to 2001 and the Government agreed to a request from the UN to return there in a new role.
The second half of the 440-strong battalion will depart on Monday.
Among the soldiers heading overseas will be a real-life band of brothers -- Sgt Gerry Graham, Sgt Alan Graham and younger brother Nigel from Mullingar, Co Westmeath are all part of the mission.
It will be the fourth overseas mission for Sgt Gerry Graham, who along with his two brothers decided to follow in their late father Noel's footsteps by joining the Army.
"Our dad served in the Army for 43 years during which time he went on four overseas missions. He was extremely proud that all three of us decided to join the Army. He was a huge inspiration to us," he said.
The brothers will form part of the Quick Reaction Force which assists the government by patrolling with the Lebanese army.
Their role will involve the protection of civilians, extensive mobile patrolling throughout the Irish area of operations, and monitoring along the blue line.