Soldiers greeted joyously on return from Golan Heights

Some members of return party unable to get to Dublin due to flight complications

Trooper Amy Crook and boyfriend Ger on return to Dublin. Photograph:  Peter Murtagh

Trooper Amy Crook and boyfriend Ger on return to Dublin. Photograph: Peter Murtagh


Several members of an advance return party of the Defence Forces’ 48th Infantry Group deployed with the United Nations on the Golan Heights in Syria were unable to get to Dublin last night because of flight complications.

However about 25 of the party of 30 arrived after several delays and were greeted joyously by relatives and friends.

Bridget Hutton wrapped a welcome home flag around her fiance Trooper Cormac Maher as he emerged into the arrivals hall of Dublin Airport’s Terminal 2.

“He’s coming home to marry me,” she said with a broad grin, Tpr Maher in apparent agreement.

Tpr Amy Crook, who featured in The Irish Times The Mission series published last April which detailed the 48th’s training for the UN deployment, hugged her boyfriend Ger and said she was delighted to be back but concerned for her comrades still on the Golan.

The 48th have been based in Camp Zouani in Israeli-occupied Syria and are separated from fighting in the Syrian civil war by at times no more than 100 meters of no man’s land.

Corporal Emma Ging, praised for bravery by her commanding officer, Lt-Col Mark Prendergast, for leading a team into a minefield to recover the remains of four dead Syrian insurgents, said it had been a “brilliant mission” but the toughest overseas operation she had experienced.

She was embraced by her daughter Amber and nephew Warren.

The Defence Forces personnel who were unable to travel through Tel Aviv and Heathrow, apparently because of flight booking difficulties, included Lt Stephen Keane, the senior officer travelling with the advance return party. However, he and the others are expected back in Dublin on Wednesday.

The main bulk of the remainder of the 48th, around 100 soldiers, are expected back in Ireland on Tuesday, October 7th.