THE latest recruits at Custume Barracks in Athlone have passed out, having come through their initial military training programme.
The group of 77 recruits – members of the 30th and 31st Recruit Platoon – completed 15 weeks of training and are now two star privates. The next phase of their training, 10 weeks, will commence later this month, and they will then move to three star privates and will be deployed to various centres around the country.
Speaking at the passing out ceremony at Custume Barracks on Friday morning, Lt Col Johnny Whittaker paid tributes to the graduates and said the training was “physically and at times mentally demanding”.
“It marks the beginning of what I hope will be a very rewarding military career for each of you,” he said.
He said that when the recruits commenced their training in October, they were all “individual citizens aspiring to become members of Óglaigh na hÉireann. Since that time your instructors have transformed you into infantry soldiers, part of a bigger team”.
The training, he said, is geared towards building and shaping character and instilling a keen sense of duty, patriotism and an awareness of the Defence Forces ethos and traditions.
He said the hard work, perseverance and commitment has paid off and he encouraged recruits to live the Defence Forces values of loyalty, respect, moral courage, physical courage, selflessness and integrity.
FOR MORE COVERAGE AND PHOTOGRAPHS OF THE PASSING OUT CEREMONY, CHECK OUT THIS WEEK'S WESTMEATH INDEPENDENT, OUT NOW.