Some fathers and sons play golf together or go fishing, but the McGaherns from Fermoy have a slightly different take on family time — they’ve both been deployed to troubled Golan Heights together.
Father and son Liam and Trevor McGahern were among 130 troops going through their paces at the Glen of Imaal, Co Wicklow, yesterday in their final phase of training before shortly departing on a UN mission to the troubled region.
Liam, 58, a squadron sergeant with 13 overseas tours under his belt, will be accompanying son Trevor, 37, a sergeant, on the tour.
Both men are from Fermoy, Co Cork, and are under no illusions of the potential dangers, with a civil war raging in Syria and IS close to their area of operation.
But they were given some valuable advice from Liam’s youngest son, Brian, who was in Golan Heights last year. He’s currently serving in Lebanon and that leaves mum Joan alone at home to worry about her three men.
“She’s well used to it. She knew what she was getting into [when we married] as [soldiering] was the life I chose,” said Liam.
This will be his final overseas tour — he is set to retire in October 2016.
It’s rare that a father and son would serve overseas together, but it’s believed the McGahern family hold a record for the Irish Army.
“Four years ago all three of us served at the same time in Kosovo,” Liam said.
“Brian gave us a good briefing after returning from the Golan. We’ve been training constantly for this mission at the Glen of Imaal and Kilworth Camp.”
All-Ireland-winning Kilkenny hurler Eoin Larkin is also a corporal and will be travelling out with the 50th infantry group on the mission.
Trevor said he knew the Golan mission could be trickier than the other seven overseas tours he’s been on. “But we have been undergoing very robust training and taking in every possible scenario,” he said.
Trevor also said there “was no fear of his mother”, but admitted he would find it hard to say goodbye to his own wife, Amanda, and their two children, Charlie, 2, and Holly, 13. “I’m anxious to get out there and get the job done. It’s not like before. We will have wifi out there so we can contact home any time if we need to. It’s good to have the father around as well because if we get homesick we can talk to each other.”
Yesterday’s mission readiness exercise put commanders and soldiers through a demanding series of scenarios indicative of the current situation in the Middle East and based on potential threats that may be encountered in the volatile mission area. Troops faced simulated explosive strikes, were tasked with securing, extracting, and evacuating personnel, as well as practising anti-ambush tactics.
They will be the fifth Irish group to serve in the region.
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