Irish soldiers have been awarded medals for their heroism in the Siege of Jadotville on a UN peacekeeping mission in the Congo – after a 55-year wait.
Surviving members and and the families of deceased members of the infantry were presented with medals honouring their bravery and courage.
The siege of Jadotville occurred during Ireland’s peacekeeping mission in the Congo in September 1961. The historic event was brought to life in the Richie Smith film The Siege of Jadotville.
A member of the defence forces holds the ‘An Bonn The 158 Irish soldiers found themselves fighting against 5,000 of Kantanganese troops to survive, as their supplies of ammunition, food and water dwindled over the course of 5 days. Junior Defence Minister Paul Kehoe last week presented An Bonn Jadotville to members of the ‘A Company’, who took part in the siege.
At the ceremony in Athlone he said “the retelling of the events at Jadotville does not and cannot reflect the incredible reality of what happened during the siege and its aftermath.
“It can only briefly suggest the courage you showed in your willingness to act and the bravery displayed in your every actions. Despite the overwhelming numbers opposing them, the men of A Company retained their resolve and remained unshaken during the attack.
Thomas Cunningham, from Mullingar, has his medal adjusted by his wife Phil Minister Kehoe and former Taoiseach Enda Kenny decided to award a medal to the men of ‘A Company’ on 13 June 2016.
Minister Kehoe said: “I would like to draw your attention to the words on the medal that you will soon receive. The words state ‘cosaint chalma’ (which means “valiant defence”) and ‘misneach’ (which means ‘courage’).
“These words were carefully chosen in order to pay tribute to the courageous actions of the men of A Company.”
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