30/09/2011

RIR And Irish Guards Win Gallantry Awards

Soldiers on route to Northern Ireland for a series of public engagements this week are among the 25 men from the Irish Guards and Royal Irish Regiment who have just been awarded honours for bravery.

The significant contribution made by the regiments as part of 16 Air Assault Brigade over the past winter in Helmand Province has been recognised by the latest Operational Awards and Honours list just published.

Among the awards are an OBE, an MBE, two Distinguished Service Orders (DSOs) and three Military Crosses (MCs). A number of soldiers were also Mentioned in Despatches (MIDs) for outstanding bravery.

Many of the soldiers will be taking part in the Military Review and Drumhead Service hosted by Belfast City Council at the RUAS Showgrounds on Friday 7th October as well as civic parades by the Irish Guards in Newtownards on Saturday 8th October and in Castlereagh on Sunday 9th October.
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Soldiers from the Irish Guards formed the core of the Brigade Advisory Group training, mentoring and working alongside the Afghan security forces while soldiers from the 1st and 2nd Battalions Royal Irish Regiment formed the lead element of the Royal Irish Battlegroup facing some of the toughest fighting in the area for some years.

The Commanding Officers of both regiments praised the dedication and skills of the officers and men under their command.

Lt Col Chris Ghika of the Irish Guards, who himself receives an OBE, said: "The Irish Guards were co-located alongside the Afghans right across Helmand.

"We were eating, sleeping, training and fighting with them in no less than 22 locations. In order to be effective we had to form friendships and such has been the strength of those friendships that they remain in place today."

Lt Col Colin Weir of the 1st Battalion Royal Irish Regiment, who receives the Distinguished Service Order medal for courage and leadership, said: "I am very proud of my men. They are awe inspiring and a privilege to lead."

(BMcC/GK)

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