Military honours for hero helicopter winchman

Military honours for hero helicopter winchman

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Flight Sergeant (retired) Daithí Ó’ Cearbhalláin at the Irish Coast Guard base in Shannon – Photo: Press 22

A former member of the Irish Air Corps and recipient of the Distinguished Service Medal (DSM) will be afforded military honours at his funeral in Co Clare today.

Flight Sergeant (retired) Daithí Ó’ Cearbhalláin (Dave Carolan), who retired from the Defence Forces in 2002, was one of the country’s most experienced and decorated search and rescue helicopter crewmen having served with the Irish Air Corps and up to recently the Irish Coast Guard.

Since retiring from the Defence Forces after 21 years of service, Mr Ó’ Cearbhalláin has been a senior crew member at the Irish Coast Guard helicopter base at Shannon Airport from where Rescue 115 operates.

He joined CHC Ireland in 2002 when they were awarded the contract to provide search and rescue helicopter services for the Irish Government. After transferring to Shannon Daithí became senior crewman and in 2006 was further promoted to chief crewman.

The Coolock man, who has been resident in Clare for many years, worked as a winchman mainly on search and rescue operations with the Air Corps where he also studied paramedic skills. He also spent some time in the Army Ranger Wing.

By the time he had finished in the Air Corps, Daithí had reached the position of chief crewman and had been honoured with several awards including the Distinguished Service Medal (DSM).

Daithí also died following an illness on the 27th anniversary of the rescue mission for which he received that DSM.

The late Dave Carolan

An Air Corps spokesman said: “The Helicopter Wing is the most decorated Unit in the Irish Defence Forces and Flight Sergeant Carolan DSM contributed to this legacy, being presented with the Sir Edward Maisie Lewis award, the Department of Marine Meritorious Medal and the Distinguished Service Medal (DSM) with Distinction after in assisting in the rescue of four trawlermen from the fishing vessel ‘Locative’ off the Donegal Coast on the 9th of March 1990.”

He was also honoured by the British Shipwrecked Fishermen and Mariners’ Benevolent Society Award in 1992 for his part in rescuing 57 crew members from the French-registered fish factory ship Capitaine Pleven II which had run aground in Galway Bay the previous year. The RAF were also involved in the mission because of the number of persons that required evacuating.

Daithí Ó’ Cearbhalláin was one of Ireland’s most experienced and decorated SAR winchmen

Mr Ó’Cearbhalláin’s funeral mass will be held at St Mary’s Church in Quin Co Clare this morning while a cremation service will take place on Monday in Dublin.

The Irish Air Corps have confirmed the former Air Corps crewman and Army Ranger will be afforded military honours including a Bearer Party and a Firing Party at his funeral.

Mr Ó’Cearbhalláin is survived by his wife Dara, daughters Aoife and Niamh, sons Conláed, Tomás and Cuan.

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Chief Reporter Pat Flynn has worked as a journalist for almost 30 years. His career began during the late 1980s when, like many aspiring radio presenters of the time, he worked for local pirate radio stations in Clare and Limerick. Pat joined Clare FM in 1990 where he worked as researcher initially and later presented several different programmes including the station's flagship current affairs programme. He was also the station's News Editor and Deputy Controller of Programmes. Despite leaving in 2003 to pursue a career as a freelance journalist, he continues to work with the station to this day. As well as being the Clare Herald’s Chief Reporter Pat is also freelance journalist and broadcaster, contributing to Ireland’s national newspapers and is a regular contributor to national broadcasters.

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