Recruits from the local Reserve Defence Forces (RDF) unit in Boyle recently swept the boards at the annual training camp in Mullingar, taking away the prize for best soldier and best shot. The recruits have just returned from their annual training camp in Mullingar where they spent two weeks experiencing military life for their first time. 88 recruits from counties Galway, Mayo, Roscommon, Longford, Offaly, Sligo and Westmeath descended on Columb Barracks, Mullingar, for a two-week training course in the Army Reserve. This is the first time that recruits from so many areas joined together for recruit training. Private Christine Keane from Ballinameen won best soldier following the training course and Pte. Denise Ward from Loughglynn won best shot after she got the highest score on the firing range in Carnagh where she fired the steyr 5.56mm assault rifle. Both these recruits are members of C Company 56th Inf. Bn. based in Boyle Co. Roscommon. Comdt. Pat Bruen unit commander in Boyle said, ‘I am delighted that two of my soldiers won these awards, from what I know of these young people it is no wonder as they are highly motivated, intelligent and hardworking. I hope they enjoy a long career in the reserve.’ Both of these soldiers were part of the section trained by Corporal Amanda Tansey from Gurteen who was recently promoted to the rank of corporal after successfully completing her potential NCOs course in O’Neill Barracks Cavan in April this year. The training that the soldiers underwent involved foot drill, arms drill, rifle marksmanship, first aid, tactical training, basic military skills and of course physical training. The training programme extended long into the evenings and in line with military policy, recruits are required to refrain from alcohol consumption for the duration of the course. The high point for many of the recruits was the firing of the steyr rifle on Carnagh range in Athlone. One recruit we spoke to was Niall Towey from Ballaghaderreen. Niall is 17 will sit his Leaving Cert next year and is a member of the Mayo U17 football panel. He loved his two weeks on camp and would love to join the cadets. ‘Shooting on the range was the highlight for me. I loved the steyr and firing it was brilliant. I also loved meeting lots of new people and making new friends. I am definitely coming back and I really want to join the cadets,’ he said. Recruit training in the RDF is designed to develop the character, morale and discipline of the young soldier and the objective is to qualify the recruit as a two star private in the RDF. The holistic development of the recruit is incorporated in the training through various activities which included a cultural trip to the National Museum of Ireland at Collins Barracks, a talk by Ms. Rita Kelly from the HSE on suicide awareness and numerous team events. Each student had to reach a minimum standard before passing out. On completion of the course students were congratulated by Comdt. Johnston OC 56th Bn. and presented with their two stars. Comdt. Johnston said, ‘I am enthused and energised by the commitment, dedication and hard work of these young people’. After the course many students expressed an interest in pursuing a career in the defence forces and are looking forward to next year. Following a re-organisation of the defence forces in 2005 the FCA was re named the Reserve Defense Force. The 19th Battalion which was headquartered in Boyle became part of the 56th Battalion headquartered in Athlone and the Companies based in Castlerea and Boyle were amalgamated to form C Coy 56 Inf. Bn. in Boyle. If you would like to learn more about the Reserve Defence Forces check the army website on www.military.ie ring the RDF office in Boyle on (071) 96 2013 or call to the military post Boyle.