I was 8 when the first soldiers arrived in Northern Ireland.
My Dad, a ‘B’ Special, had been away from home a lot just before, policing riots in Derry.
I remember the first road block they set up outside our house. I was fascinated and wanted to welcome them with a cup of tea like I’d seen on TV. I thought that was the thing to do.
I remember the road noise of Land Rovers driving down country roads. They could be heard approaching from about a mile away.
I remember going with my Dad after he joined the UDR in the early 1970s to help fill sandbags at an electricity substation near Tandragee.
I remember my Mum and Dad inviting two soldiers for Christmas dinner – I was around 11 or 12, and they brought me a leather football.
I remember waiting in my Dad’s car as he worked in army barracks – Gough, Glenanne, Drumadd.
I remember meeting older soldiers in the UDR – our postman had fought at El Alamein – a natural choice for Company Sergeant Major. WW2 was as close as we are to the Falklands conflict.
I remember checking underneath my Dad’s car for bombs each morning.
I remember his personal protection weapon in his bedside drawer.
I remember him attending countless funerals.
I remember waiting for him to come home from duty each night.
And I remember people who didn’t.
I am glad Operation Banner is over.