Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Army Chief pays tribite to the 2nd Battalion the Rifles!
AN army chief today paid tribute to his troops and Gazette readers after enduring his most difficult tour of duty yet.Lt Col Justin Maciejewski said it had been a "great privilege" to lead Second Battalion The Rifles during their seven-month tour of war-torn Iraq.Six hundred soldiers made the 3,000-mile journey back from the southern Iraqi city of Basra to the force’s base in Weeton this week. Lt Col Maciejewski wasted no time in thanking Gazette readers for the tremendous boost their Christmas parcels gave troops during their difficult mission. The soldiers have combined tackling insurgents with training the Iraqi police and army to take over control of security in the city.
Lt Col Maciejewski, who has served in the Army for 22 years, said: "I don’t
think any one of us has been as challenged in a conflict environment as we
have been in Iraq for the last few months."We have done what has been asked of us to create a better future. We had a very difficult mission and have killed more than 160 of the militia trying to destabilise Basra."It’s been by far and away the most challenging and difficult thing that I’ve had to cope with – and I’ve been to war before."One of the high points of the seven months was the parcels we were sent by
Gazette readers."It picked up our spirits and reminded us we were being supported by the community back home."
The soldiers, who were welcomed home at a party on Thursday night, are now
looking forward to taking a well-earned rest with their loved ones.
Lt Col Maciejewski was welcomed home by his wife Rebecca and his three sons,
Benedict, 10, Cassian, nine, and Inigo, six.He said: "It’s a great relief to be home and a wonderful thing to be with our families again."We’re all looking to making the most of our time with them and settling back to life in the Fylde.
"They are very brave and courageous young men. It has been a great privilege
to command them."It is now up to the Iraqis themselves. It will be for them to create a better future for Basra."
The returning soldiers have also been remembering three of their regiment
who died in conflict in Iraq.
Rifleman Aaron Lincoln, 18, Rfn Daniel Coffey, 21, and Rfn Paul Donnachie,
18, were all killed in action.
Lt Col Maciejewski paid tribute to their bravery while serving their
country.He added: "When we came home you could sense the feeling of loss.
"We’re proud to have known them and served with them. We will remember them
forever."Our thoughts are with their families".
Article from the Blackpool Gazzete
Scipio says: Well done the Rifles and welcome home!