Carrick-on-Suir's Mark White is deployed with the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) with the IRISHFINBATT.
A Tipperary army officer is spending his second Christmas away from loved ones in South Lebanon with the Irish Defence Forces.
Carrick-on-Suir's Captain Mark White is deployed with the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) with the IRISHFINBATT, a combined battalion of Irish, Finnish and Estonian troops.
The 28-year-old says it’s not only tough on peacekeepers working overseas but also on their loved ones left behind at Christmas.
“I miss my family, friends and my girlfriend Melissa who are back at home celebrating Christmas without me, but it’s easier nowadays to keep in contact with them through social media,” Capt. White tells The Nationalist.
“Christmas dinner at home is one of the big things I miss. Thankfully, we have an excellent catering staff that are looking after us well and are sure not to disappoint,” he continues.
But despite being a long way from Tipperary, the son of Brian and Janet White says Christmas day will be surprisingly similar to home. “We’ll have mass in the morning with our resident chaplin, followed by a charity run around the camp, followed by dinner. It’s an old army custom for the officers to serve the troops their dinner on Christmas day as a sign of appreciation for their hard work throughout the year. There will also be the customary lighting of the Christmas pudding which is carried into the dining hall by the Cook Sergeant, escorted by a soldier playing the bagpipes. In the evening people try and call home to wish their loved ones a happy Christmas and later there might be a guitar pulled out for a tune”.
Carrick-on-Suir cousins Captain Mark White and Commandant Roseanna White are enjoying the build up to Christmas in Lebanon.
Based at At-Tiri in South Lebanon for the next five months, Capt. White is working on a wide variety of functions. These range from controlling the movement of personnel outside the area of operations to supporting frontline operational troops and the accountancy of weapons, ammunition and specialist equipment.
Capt. White, who was based at Clonmel’s Kickham Barracks before being transferred to Limerick’s Sarsfield Barracks when it closed, relishes the “unique challenges” that every day brings in Lebanon.
“Every day is a new experience. It’s a testing environment and it’s my job to ensure that the troops have the necessary support to achieve their mission,” he adds.