A special memorial to an Irish soldier killed in an ambush in the Congo in 1960 was unveiled in Leixlip on 2 June.
Family and friends of the late Sgt. Hugh Gaynor attended the unveiling ceremony organised by Leixlip Town Council.
An individual plaque to the memory of Sgt. Gaynor has been erected at the Plaza beside the Main Street car park.
Members of the 33rd Infantry battalion in which Sgt. Gaynor served also attended as well as Tomas Kenny, one of the survivors of the massacre, Town Councillors and TD’s, Anthony Lawler and Catherine Murphy, and members of the ONE organisation for national service people.
Sgt. Gaynor was killed at the age of 29 when an Irish army group was attacked by Baluba tribesmen on 8 November 1960.
After introductions by Town Clerk, Siobhan Barry, Town Council chairman, Sean Purcell, said that
Sgt. Gaynor had “made the supreme sacrifice” and has subsequently been awarded four medals.
Cmmd. Colin MacNammee of the 2nd Cavalry squadron, thanked the Town Council and people of Leixlip for acknowledging the sacrifice of Sgt. Gaynor and his family.
He said Sgt. Gaynor had been a “true pathfinder” and it was good to see his contribution to international peace being recognised, he said.
Cmmd. MacNamee said Sgt. Gaynor was one of three soldier from his unit to loose their lives in the ambush. He went on to say that the Irish Army had “a proud tradition of service to peace” and noted that the 104th battalion was just now going to the Lebanon.
Sally Ring, Sgt. Gaynor’s sister, spoke on behalf of the family, and thanked everyone for “a much appreciated tribute to my brother.”
She said her brother was baptised Hugh Francis Gaynor but was known as “Sonny.”
He grew up three miles from the town centre on the other side of the county border and went to school in Leixlip. “I don’t think Sonny’s attendance at school would break any records.
He was the youngest and only boy and was spoilt a bit by my parents, she said.
He was “mad into motorbikes,” she said, and always looking for action.
At one point, he decided to run away to join the British Army in the dying days of World War 2 and left a note on the table saying “Will write to you from Burma.”
He did not get there because the “certificate” did not fool anyone.
He eventually got serious and made a good husband, a good father and a good soldier, she said thanking everyone for the memorial.