A Privates Life

By Pte Alan Keogh

My name is Private Alan Keogh. I’ve been a member of the Engineers for twelve years. I joined in the summer of ’99. Back then, we were known as the 11 Field Engineers. After the reorganisation a few years ago, we were renamed the 62 Engineers. When I joined the Engineers, we were based in Clancy Barracks. When Clancy was closed down, we were transferred to McKee Barracks.

During my twelve years, I’ve received a lot of training. My first annual camp – recruit camp - was in Longford. During my recruit camp, we were taught foot and arms drill – how to march in a smart and soldier like manner. We then moved on to a course on the assault rifle, which was the FN at the time. The FN still remains my favourite rifle. We were trained to fire the rifle on the firing range, and then moved on to tactics including Section in Attack. After that recruit camp, my section were promoted to 2* privates, which was well deserved, we all worked hard.

We then moved on to the 3* course, where we were trained on the Bren .303 – a light machine gun. The engineers 3* course also includes learning some engineering tasks, including explosive demolitions. As part of the course, each of us had to detonate a half pound charge. Once we completed the requirements for the course, we passed out as 3* privates.

Since I joined, the FN rifle and the Bren LMG, have been replaced. The FN was replaced by the Steyr AUG, and the Bren was replaced by the GPMG. Both great weapons, but personally I still prefer the FN and the Bren.

In my twelve years in the RDF, I’ve been on a load of courses, and had many great experiences. One memory that remains in the top of my head and that I am very proud of is the 90th anniversary of the 1916 Rising, when we marched down O’Connell Street with the Tri-Colour on our arms. Every time I think about it, the hairs still stand on the back of my neck.

I’ve done many courses, including Explosive Demolitions, Mine awareness and Bridge Building – including the Bailey Bridge, Medium Girder Bridge (MGB), Pontoon Bridge, and the Infantry assault Bridge.

In my opinion, the most effective training we’ve done has been over the last 3 years. Our annual camps have been corps camps, where all the engineers, from all over the country, both RDF and PDF have been training together. We’ve had the opportunity to learn from them, and vice-versa. These training periods have included up to 72hrs on the ground.

First of all we are soldiers, so we’re trained in weapons and tactics, but we also need to know how to be combat engineers. We’ve done aerial ropeways, field defences, camp construction, fire fighting, among other things, and even though I’ve been in 12 years, I’m still learning new stuff. That’s why I love it. That’s why, at the moment, I’m half way through my PNCO course. I have one module done and one to go. So hopefully, in September, I’ll be an NCO and have 2 stripes instead of 3 stars.

A Life Less Ordinary

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