THERE was much reminiscing at Corcreggan Mill in Dunfanaghy last weekend when 15 retired officers of the class of ’72 got together.
Sunday was the 42nd anniversary of the formation at the Military College in the Curragh Camp in County Kildare of the 47nd Cadet Class.
Retired Commandant Brendan Rohan who lives at Corgreggan Mill organised the get together “to meet on a happy occasion rather than meeting each other at funerals”.
“It was a wonderful weekend and a great opportunity to talk about the various countries we served in over the years.
“This year has seen the retirement of the last of those who attained the rank of Colonel and the remaining two members of the class still serving are both Generals, who by virtue of their appointments could not attend the Reunion.
“The collection of medals earned by the class members are testament to their UN service in such far flung countries as Lebanon, Cyprus, Israel, Jordan, Syria, Egypt, Liberia, Chad, East Timor, Eritrea, Western Sahara, Angola, Ivory Coast, Kosovo, Croatia, Serbia, Namibia, Honduras, Iraq, Kuwait, Nicaragua, Haiti and Bosnia Herzegovina,” Brendan said.
First double Cadet intake
He explained that before 1972 it was common enough that the intake of Cadets (young men in training to become commissioned officers in the Irish Defence Forces) numbered 20-30 in each class with induction and training normally beginning in September each year.
However, with the increasing violence in Northern Ireland and the mounting internal security threat within the Republic, the government, in 1969-70, decided that in order to staff the expansion of existing units and the establishment of some new units along the border, there needed to be a second intake of cadets each year for a number of years.
“Our particular class of 1972 was unusual in that, not only was it the first of the additional Cadet Class’ in the Military College that year it began with 56 young men. A significant number of them, unlike the usual classes who came straight in after Secondary School, had already been out in the world for a while.
“I was a serving soldier. Three others were serving Gardai, Some were at University. One was an equitation instructor, one a swimming instructor, one a banker, one a miner and individually and collectively they had gained a certain amount of experience before their officer training began,” he said.
2014 has seen the retirement of the last of those who attained the rank of . Those absent were Brigadier General Derry Fitzgerald, General Officer Commanding 1st Southern Brigade who is participating in Exercise Viking 14 in Sweden – the largest recurring civil-military relations exercise in the world. Brigadier General Pat Phelan is Deputy Force Commander of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon.
A large number of the class who sent their apologies are serving in a wide variety of humanitarian service, business and military-associated employments across the globe and were unable to make it to this reunion. Six are deceased.
The attendance of 15 members of the 47th Cadet Class at this, their first reunion outside a military barracks was deemed by all who attended for the weekend as “a great success and a very restful and enjoyable occasion … to be repeated!” Brendan added.