FCA veterans now fighting with the US in Afghanistan
IT'S a long way from training with the FCA to fighting in the hills of Afghanistan. But that's where two lifelong Dublin friends now find themselves.
SFC (Sergeant First Class) Sean O'Gorman and SFC Ian Lumley are in the hills of Parwan province as part of the US Army's 86th Infantry Brigade combat team.
Their friendship dates back to the 1980s, when Sean from Sutton and Ian from St Margaret's met as members of the FCA's 7th Infantry Battalion in Swords.
Leaving Ireland in 1992, both went to the US to find work, Sean in IT and Ian for a company working with the US military.
Attracted back into the military, both enlisted in the US National Guard in 1993 and were amazed to meet up again when they were being trained as paratroopers in Fort Benning, Georgia.
"It was quite a shock seeing Ian so far from home and in another army, but it was like old times," Sean told the Irish Independent.
After 9/11, both men were called up as members of the National Guard to serve first in Iraq and later in Afghanistan.
"I never thought myself and Ian would end up in Afghanistan," said Sean.
"It's funny how our lives have followed a similar trajectory. It's great to have a good mate here from Dublin with you.
"Having someone that you know well and that you can relate to -- especially when it comes to being Irish -- helps you get through the lows and enjoy the highs while you're away from the family."
The two Dubliners said they had also met other Irish soldiers serving with the US forces in Afghanistan.
"We met a guy over here, Major Anthony Flood, who told us he was from Beaumont.
"Another day, myself and Ian came across an Irish Army contingent and went up to say hello. They couldn't believe these two US soldiers both had Dublin accents," said Sean.
A 45-year-old father of two who works as an IT manager, Sean said he was fully behind the US presence in Afghanistan.
"This is where Al-Qa'ida planned and launched the 9/11 attacks. We want to help the Afghans to return to some kind of peaceful life."
However, there is a personal cost. Sean said he misses his wife Trina and children Aidan (7) and Cormac (2), who are back in America.
"You miss so much, being away from the family. Our kids are a constant topic of conversation, we all realise that we are missing events that are gone and won't be repeated.
"But what we're doing here is worth doing and maybe sometime in the future I'll look back and grasp the enormity of it."