'Seeing my son is the perfect present'
IT may be the best present he will receive this festive season, as Sergeant Jimmy Hayles arrived home from Lebanon in time to spend Christmas with his newborn son.
The Finglas man returned from a six-month tour of duty yesterday afternoon and was reunited with his baby son Ryan in the arrivals hall of Dublin Airport.
This was just the fourth time that Sgt Hayles has seen his son since Ryan was born prematurely during the summer.
"He was born 12 weeks premature on June 9. But they had Jimmy home within 24 hours of his birth," his wife Diane explained.
Baby Ryan was just over two pounds when he was born and Sgt Hayles hardly recognised his thriving son who now weighs over 12 pounds. "The Defence Forces were very good to facilitate me to get home to see my wife and son. It was stressful, but I had reassurance from the guys in the Defence Forces, and also from the staff in the hospital.
"As well as from Diane's family, and my own," Sgt Hayles explained.
"We can't wait for Christmas, and we are going to have him spoiled rotten," he added.
The arrivals hall of the airport was packed with adoring children and loving partners and parents yesterday, who were there to greet the 171 Irish Defence Forces troops who were returning from a six-month tour of duty in the south of Lebanon.
The 108 Infantry Battalion was under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Anthony McKenna, and their replacements – the 42nd Infantry Group – started their rotation to Lebanon last week.