PROMINENT Portadown-born soldier Colin Weir MBE, DSO, has been promoted to the rank of Colonel - just weeks before he is due to relinquish his post as Commanding Officer of the 1st Battalion of the Royal Irish Rangers.
Colonel Weir (40) took over as C.O. in March 2010, a position that included a highly successful tour of duty of Afghanistan, which he looks back upon with great pride and with a sense of loss, as three of his Battalion lost their lives in the Middle East conflict.
He received the MBE in the 2010 New Year’s Honours List, and the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) for the courageous and compassionate leadership of his men - “the best soldiers in the world” - during their seven-month tour of Afghanistan.
Commanding Officers are given just the one ‘shot’ at that aspect of soldering, and next month, Colonel Weir will move on to his next post, which has still not been determined. He would prefer a position where he will be in regular contact with soldiers, as distinct from a desk job. But as he says, “This is the Army and orders are orders!”
The MBE was for his involvement in the formation of the 11 Light Brigade in Afghanistan – he was the Brigade Chief of Staff.
Col Weir comes from a strong military background. His late father Herbie Weir was a Colonel in the Territorial Army and his maternal grandfather, Sergeant Davis, gained the Distinguished Conduct Medal, the Military Medal and the French Croix de Guerre in the First World War. His mother is Mrs Maud Weir, a respected retired teacher from Edenderry Primary School.
A former Portadown College student, and a graduate of Queen’s University, Colonel Weir gained a Bachelor of Arts Honours Degree in History, after which he entered the Army Officers Training College at Sandhurst and emerged as Captain with 1 Royal Irish.
His service includes a year in Cyprus with the UN Forces, commanding a tank division, a tour of duty in south Armagh – “during which we weren’t allowed to go home to see our parents” – a Kosovo operation in 1999 with NATO, teaching peace-keeping techniques in west Africa, jungle warfare training in the Caribbean, and a tour of Iraq. Prior to his appointment as C.O. of 1 Royal Irish, Col Weir was deployed as a Military Assistant to Northern Ireland’s GOC, and then as Chief of Staff with the 11 Light Brigade.
He and his wife Diane live in Surrey and have three sons.