Families salute infantry force
on 25/10/2012 00:00:00
The battalion includes four sets of fathers and sons, and three sets of brothers, who will be posted at new headquarters to be known as Camp Shamrock, south of Tibnin near At Tiri.
Soldiers from 28 counties make this tour of duty, with 62 soldiers undertaking their first tour. They will serve with the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) alongside a Finnish battalion.
Mr Kehoe acknowledged the "volatile" situation in Lebanon and the Middle East, and said the peacekeeping role played by Irish soldiers was "central in promoting peace and giving hope to people in an area where peace and hope are currently in short supply."
A visit to Lebanon on St Patrick's Day last assured him of "the dedication and professionalism of our military personnel".
He offered assurances that soldiers would be fully equipped and "there will be no effort spared on the department's behalf to ensure they are looked after".
He also repeated the department's commitment to maintaining Defence Force numbers.
Private Martin Ward from Garrycastle, Athlone, makes his first tour of duty, 20 years after his father Peter lost his life in the line of duty in Lebanon. He also lost his uncle in similar circumstances in 1986.
He said he was proud to follow in his father's footsteps, even though he would be leaving his partner and his four-year-old son, Kailum.
"I don't think about the dangers of it, I think about my father and following in my father's footsteps. I'm just proud to go over and serve for the UN like my father," he said.
Father and son Private Mark Cox and Gunner Philip Cox from Monksland, Athlone, will make their first journey together to the Lebanon.
Gunner Cox said he was inspired to join the army listening to his father's stories from Lebanon, where he has served five tours of duty.