Irish Troops in Helmand Mark St Patrick’s Day
Troops from the 1st Battalion The Royal Irish Regiment and the Irish Guards serving in Afghanistan marked St Patrick’s Day in Helmand yesterday.
In the early hours of St Patrick’s Day, the Commanding Officer of 1 R IRISH, Lieutenant Colonel Colin Weir, joined a number of his officers and soldiers to observe the repatriation of Lance Corporal Stephen McKee, who was killed in action by an improvised explosive device explosion on 9 March 2011.
Also present was friend of the Regiment, Lord Eames, the Anglican Primate of All Ireland and Archbishop of Armagh from 1986 until 2006, who is currently visiting Helmand.
At 1130hrs, on 17 March 2011, the Royal Irish troops who are based in Shropshire and recruit from Ulster, held a St Patrick’s Day Parade within Forward Operating Base Shawqat.
The piper, bugler and the shamrock – which had been especially flown in from Ireland – were all present as the soldiers formed up in front of the Regimental Colours.
Lord Eames led the service and presented a shamrock to each of the officers and soldiers. The District Governor of Nad ‘Ali, Habibullah Shamalani, was also presented a shamrock on his first ever ‘Paddy’s Day’.
As part of the service, Lord Eames rededicated the memorial within Forward Operating Base Shawqat to those fallen soldiers who have died in Helmand. The 40 names were read out by the Adjutant, Captain Jonathan Toomey. A wreath was then laid by Lord Eames and the Commanding Officer, Lt Col Weir.
Lord Eames said:
“It is an immense privilege to visit the Royal Irish Regiment and to see the wonderful progress they have enabled the local community in Helmand to make towards stability and confidence.
“The death of Lance Corporal Stephen McKee has cast a shadow over our celebrations of St Patrick’s Day, but Northern Ireland should be very proud of what he and all his colleagues have achieved here.”
To read the rest of this story, along with a video report from British Forces News, click HERE.