Thursday 23 November 2017

How veteran never gave up hope of finding body of Trooper Pat Mullins

Commandant Art Magennis, who spent 50 years searching for the body of Trooper Patrick Mullins, who has been missing in action in the Congo since 1961
Commandant Art Magennis, who spent 50 years searching for the body of Trooper Patrick Mullins, who has been missing in action in the Congo since 1961
Allison Bray

Allison Bray

A 97-year-old army veteran spent five decades trying to trace the missing body of a heroic teenage soldier killed in the Congo Civil War.

Testimony from Cmdt Art Magennis in which he speaks about his quest is among a collection of first-hand interviews with former soldiers and military experts released by the Defence Forces today.

Magennis, who is now resident in a nursing home, was a captain in Ireland's first-ever UN peacekeeping mission in the Congo in September 1961 when Trooper Patrick Mullins (18) from Kilbehenny, Co Limerick, was killed.

His patrol was ambushed in the city of Elisabethville. Despite placing his own life in grave danger, the young soldier refused to leave the side of his friend Cpl Michael Nolan from Co Wicklow, who suffered serious shrapnel injuries.

Trooper Patrick Mullins
Trooper Patrick Mullins

The young trooper tried to get his friend medical attention but died in a gun battle in which he single-handedly tried to hold off an enemy platoon to protect his friend.

While Cmdt Magennis eventually traced Cpl Nolan's body to a graveyard outside Elisabethville, Mullins's body was nowhere to be found.

But he never gave up the search, devoting almost half of his life to it.

Tragically, Mullins remains officially missing in action.

Twenty-seven Irish soldiers died in the Congo between 1960 and 1964.

The recordings, made over the past year, are part of the Military Archives Oral History Project at the Military Archives at Cathal Brugha Barracks.

Irish Independent

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