Albanian and Polish soldiers join Irish Defence Force ranks

An increasingly multi-ethnic Irish society has been reflected in the latest bunch of recruits to join the Defence Forces.

Photo Credit: CS John Thompson of BTC 1 Brigade, recruit Patryk Krzyzak, originally from Poland, Lt Colm Kirby, platoon commander, Lt Col John O’Neill, acting executive officer of 1 Brigade,Comdt John O’Sullivan, and recruit Aldo Gaxha, originally from Albania, at the 141st Recruit Platoon’s passing out ceremony, Collins Barracks, Cork. Pictures: David Keane

A passing out ceremony for the 141 Recruit Platoon at Collins Barracks, Cork, yesterday included Albanian and Polish-born soldiers.

Families proudly watched Aldo Gaxha, 23, originally from Albania and Patryk Krzyzak, 19, originally from Poland, take the oath of allegiance to their adoptive country along with 30 other recruits.

Aldo, who now lives in Kerry, said he chose to join the Defence Forces because he wanted the opportunity to travel overseas with the United Nations and see parts of the world most people never get to see.

Patryk, who lives in Westmeath, said he was also looking forward to serving overseas with the UN and representing his country.

Lt Col John O’Neill, acting executive officer of 1 Brigade, presents the best shot award to recruit Eoin McElduff from Waterford, at the passing out parade ceremony at Collins Barracks, Cork.
Lt Col John O’Neill, acting executive officer of 1 Brigade, presents the best shot award to recruit Eoin McElduff from Waterford, at the passing out parade ceremony at Collins Barracks, Cork.

Lieutenant Colonel John O’Neill, acting executive officer for I Brigade, said the ceremony was the conclusion of 17 weeks of intensive training for the recruits. “The attendance here of so many families and friends of the members of the platoon is heart-warming. Family support plays an important role in enabling a soldier to meet the myriad of difficult and demanding tasks and I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute and thank the families and loved ones of the 141 Recruit Platoon for the support, patience and understanding,” Lt Col O’Neill said.

Lt Col John O’Neill presents the best overall recruit award to recruit Joe Everett from Kerry, at the passing out ceremony.
Lt Col John O’Neill presents the best overall recruit award to recruit Joe Everett from Kerry, at the passing out ceremony.

The award for best overall recruit went to Joe Everett, 23, from Kerry who plays football and soccer and has keen interest in scuba diving.

The best tactical student award was presented to Daniel Kennedy, 20, who comes from Wexford and plays soccer with Wexford Wanderers. Eoin McElduff, 22, from Waterford got the award for best shot.

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