Member of Defence Forces involved in Mediterranean rescue honoured
New awards to recognise respect, loyalty, selflessness, courage and integrity of members
With their Defence Forces Values Champions awards are Leading Seaman Ryan Carroll, Niamh McColgan (accepting on behalf of her deceased husband Stephen), Sgt Richard Muldarry, Sgt Leona Walsh, Vice-Admiral Mark Mellett, Cpt (retired) Noel Carey, Pte Jennifer O’Connor, Sgt Maj (retired) Noel O’Callaghan and Company Sergeant Matt Masterson.
A member of the Defence Forces who was involved in the rescue of 705 migrants in the Mediterranean last summer was among those recognised for their courage and integrity at an awards ceremony in the Curragh on Friday.
The new awards, a plaque and framed citation, are called the Defence Forces Values Champion Awards and are given to serving or retired Defence Forces members whose conduct exemplifies the standards of “respect, loyalty, selflessness, physical courage, moral courage and integrity expected of members”.
The winner of the award for physical courage was Leading Seaman Ryan Carrol for his work in migrants rescue operation in the Mediterranean.
Leading Seaman Carroll was deployed with Operation Pontus and on 16th June 2017 LÉ Eithne and her crew were involved in the rescue of 705 migrants. During this operation he volunteered and was appointed as search and rescue operator for this dangerous and challenging mission.
Over the course of a 12-hour period he placed the mission and his unit ahead of his own welfare and safety and the physical courage he displayed ensured lives were saved.
Commenting on his award he said: “I was shocked to hear I won the award, I felt any one of the crew on board that day would equally deserve it. That said, it’s a proud day for my family and myself. It means a lot particularly as I was nominated by my colleagues.”
The first recipients of the new awards within the Defence Forces received their presentations and citations from the Chief of Staff, Vice-Admiral Mark Mellett, accompanied by former captain Noel Carey, a survivor of the siege of Jadotville in central Africa in 1961.
Speaking at the United Nations Training School in the Curragh, where the awards were presented, Vice-Admiral Mellett said: “Today’s winners embody the same core values of the men and women who have served Ireland since the foundation of the State domestically and established our country’s reputation on the international stage. They act as role models for our new entrants and as standard bearers for the organisation.”
The overall Defence Forces Values Champion award went to Regimental Sgt Maj Noel O’Callaghan, a renowned and much admired non-commissioned officer, known throughout the Defence Forces and who retired earlier this year.
“Throughout his long career he has consistently demonstrated and epitomised the Defence Forces values,” said a Defence Forces spokesman. “He has displayed commitment and loyalty to his unit and never shirked his responsibilities.”
Awards were made in other categories too includingloyalty, moral courage, integrity, selflessness and respect.
The award for loyalty went to the late Sgt Stephen McColgan and was received by his widow, Niamh McColgan.
“Stephen was such a modest man he might not have enjoyed the limelight of today but for me, and the rest of the family, we are so proud to accept the award on his behalf,” she said.
A Defence Forces spokesman said that Sgt McColgan, who died in April 2017, “demonstrated tremendous loyalty to his unit and comrades of all ranks through his tireless efforts as both a soldier and instructor. He inspired those around him through the remarkable dignity and courage he displayed throughout his illness.
“All those around him looked up to him and despite all his achievements he showed admirable modesty. As an instructor he would give up his free time to ensure students received every opportunity to succeed on the various courses he instructed on.”
The winner of the award for moral courage was Sgt Richard Muldarry due to his work with the Defence Forces LGBTA “Defend with Pride” network.
Sgt Muldarry was one of the key members and driving forces behind the establishment of the network. A Defence Forces spokesman said he had demonstrated a “willingness and bravery in taking the lead in an initiative that is embraced by the Defence Forces commitment to diversity. He has willingly given his free time to establish the network and champion its cause.”
Sgt Muldarry said: “I’m so proud to have won this award, particularly, for my work on a cause that I’m so passionate about. I must say my moral courage was enabled by the progressiveness of the Defence Forces leadership.”
The award for integrity went to Company Sgt Matt Masterson in recognition of his honesty and strong moral principles.
“As the company sergeant in 2 Brigade Training Centre he constantly puts the students’ needs first and advocates on their behalf to ensure they receive the best quality of instruction possible,” said the Defence Forces. “His opinion is highly respected by all, and he received multiple nominations across a range of values from all ranks and multiple units. This is a testament to his outstanding character.”
The award for selflessness went to Pte Jennifer O’Connor who received what were described as multiple nominations throughout the Defence Forces for her “dedication to duty and always putting others’ needs ahead of her own”.
The award for respect went to Sgt Leona Walsh in recognition of the “empathy and respect she demonstrates to patients and their families . . . She demonstrates the same level of respect to all regardless of rank or who they are,” said a spokesman.
Commenting on the recipients, Jadoville Medal winner retired Capt Carey said the values being celebrated by the awards and their recipients were “the same values my comrades of A Company and I relied on in Jadotville, all those years ago”.