The Organisation of National Ex-Servicemen and Women (O.N.E.) is a support organisation for veterans of the defence forces.
The Michael McNeela Branch Dún Dealgan, is named after the young army private from Dundalk who was killed in action in the Lebanon.
It opened its veterans office based in Aiken barracks, Dundalk in January 2012.
The official opening of the branch office was attended by the late Michael’s parents John and Kathleen, and was performed by Lt Col Michael Dawson, OC 27th Inf Bn.
The army who has been fully behind the aims of the organisation and has supported the opening of the office within the barracks.
The office is manned by branch volunteers on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10am to 2pm for any ex-service personnel who would like to join the branch, or just come in for a chat.
“We have over 40 members,” said branch volunteer Mick Reid. “They come from in and around Dundalk, Ardee, Dunleer, Termonfeckin, and Newry”.
Mick served in the army between 1972 and 1978. It was a difficult time, to say the least. Soldiers had to man checkpoints along the border with garda officers on cold wet nights, often wearing unsuitable clothing. It was dangerous work, a learning time for the defence forces.
Now, in a time of great cross-border co-operation, is is hard to believe just how tense and dangerous border duty was then.
Now, Dundalk O.N.E. has a strong relationship with the British Legion and holds joint commemoration ceremonies with the legion in both Bessbrook and Belfast, something that would never have been dreamt of back in the 1970s.
It is just one example of how times have changed and how veterans from both armed services now have the opportunity to respect each others great professionalism.