THURSDAY, MAY 10: The Bermuda Regiment will arrive home on Saturday after a gruelling two-week training trip to Jamaica.
Earlier, Governor Sir Richard Gozney and National Security Minister Wayne Perinchief made the tough trip in the jungle-covered Blue Mountains of the Caribbean island to watch the troops in action.
The two, along with Honourary Colonel Eugene Raynor and British military attaches to Jamaica and the US, marched alongside the troops and shared a ration pack lunch with soldiers.
The final part of the Portland Patrol exercise saw a platoon raft building and river navigation competition – which included a 3k course and dangerous rapids.
During the two-week trip, troops had to slog through torrential rain, mud and steaming hot jungle conditions, as well as deal with rivers swollen by flood waters.
Lance Corporal Nigel Smith, who vowed to sign up for another tour after his conscription ends this year, said: “I think the Regiment offers a platform for anyone to enjoy experiences that you wouldn’t normally get.
“If anyone thinks that this was just two weeks of chilling out, they are 100 per cent wrong. My guys have worked exceptionally hard and we are so proud of what we achieved.
“I dare anyone who thinks this is a waste of time or money to come out here and try it for themselves. This was a character-developing experience for me.”
He added that the Regiment not only taught military skills, but offered experiences in leadership, endurance and ingenuity easily transferrable into civilian life.
L. Cpl Smith added: “Once you have realised what you are really capable of, you will never settle for anything less – I keep on amazing myself with what I have achieved with the Regiment.”
Some soldiers put their new jungle survival skills to good use – they gave away their rations to poverty-stricken villagers in the Portland Parish exercise area and lived off the land.
The Regiment’s specialist engineers also helped the local community by refurbishing a local infirmary.
The Assault Pioneers section built a perimeter fence, rebuilt dangerous steps and repaired walls and ceilings, as well as tiling floors and painting.
One Assault Pioneer said: “If felt good to help out the community here — the nurses, patients and especially the elderly really appreciated it.”
The troops were allowed 36 hours of rest and recreation before forming up for a trip to Montego Bay airport and the flight home.
Regiment Adjutant Captain Ben Beasley said: “Although the Governor has visited previous camps in Jamaica, he was especially pleased this year with the resilience the soldiers were displaying, despite the challenging operating conditions.
“Mr Perinchief spoke highly of the positive effect that military training had on young people and it how it bonded different sections of society into a cohesive team.
The Regiment arrives home on flight UAL 1821 tomorrow. Its estimated time of arrival in Bermuda is 2.40pm.
Anyone interested in joining the Regiment should contact 238-1045 or visit www.bermudaregiment.bm.