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Saturday 17 February 2018

'I'll spend a lot of my time cuddling' - says soldier dad home to a hero's welcome

Allison Bray

Allison Bray

Irish peacekeepers were given a hero’s welcome as they arrived at Dublin Airport after a six-month mission in Lebanon.

Children wept tears of joy as they leapt into the arms of their mums and dads as 190 troops from the 53rd Infantry Group returned home last night.

Among them was Capt Tom Fitzpatrick (29), from Kilkenny, who made a beeline for the exit.

His wife Andrea (29), gave birth to their daughter Aida less than 24 hours earlier, and he couldn’t wait to get home to see his newborn.

Jessica and Gracie Cronin from Ratoath waiting on their dad Brian Cronin who was part of the 53 Infantry Group who returned to Terminal 1, Dublin Airport following a six month deployment with the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon. Pic:Mark Condren
Jessica and Gracie Cronin from Ratoath waiting on their dad Brian Cronin who was part of the 53 Infantry Group who returned to Terminal 1, Dublin Airport following a six month deployment with the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon. Pic:Mark Condren

“She rang me and said, ‘You’ve got a baby girl’, so that’s why I’m going now straight to the hospital,” said Tom as he made a hasty retreat from the packed arrivals hall where family and friends had gathered.

“I’m delighted now after a great trip overseas. It was very rewarding – and to come home now, this is what it’s all about.”

For Battalion Quartermaster Sgt Brian Cronin (48), from Ratoath, Co Meath, who has completed 14 tours of duty, it was a delight to be home.

He vowed that the tour of duty at a post near the village of At Tiri near the boundary between Lebanon and Israel would be his last.

“I’m going to spend a lot of time cuddling because I haven’t cuddled them in a long time,” he said after embracing his daughters Jessica (10) and seven-year-old Gracie, who greeted their father for the first time in half-a-year.

For his wife Leona (41), who is a sergeant in the Air Corps, being away on tour is a part of their family life.

“It does make it easier because I understand what he is doing overseas,” she told the Herald.

“I suppose I would have the insider look at it.”

Herald

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