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The Jamaica Military Aviation School (JMAS), today (Jan.17), graduated its first batch of students, during a ceremony held at the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) Air Wing Manley Base Hanger at the Norman Manley International Airport Airport.
The students who graduated are: Lieutenants Victor Dawkins, Osmar Fiddler, and Melecia Sinclair, and they were commended on their achievements by guest speaker, National Security Minister, Colonel Trevor MacMillan.
“You are now a part of a great history. You have worked hard for this achievement. Today you have received your wings, and we are all proud of you. In choosing this career path, you have chosen a profession that can be both dangerous and rewarding. The fact is, you made the patriotic choice to serve your country, and we are all proud of you and grateful for that decision. You have answered the call to protect your country. In carrying out your duties, my plea to you is to be of good character and integrity, [and] be professional at all times,” Colonel MacMillan said.
The Minister also noted that he was “impressed with the fixity of purpose with which the JDF has seized the initiative to train its own as well as, in due course, pilots from across the region.”
“When it took on the challenge in April 2006 to establish a training facility in Jamaica, it was a bold and courageous step as it marked the end of an era. At that time, a batch of JDF personnel who had been trained in Canada graduated to serve in our army. The JDF decided then, that it was time to wean itself from the Canadians who had served us so well for some 35 years,” Colonel McMillan said.
The first set of military student pilots commenced training locally under the JDF at JMAS on July 2, 2007. The school, the result of collaboration between Jamaica and Canada, was officially opened on December 7, 2006.
Meanwhile, Canadian High Commissioner to Jamaica, Denis Kingsley, was equally pleased with the success of the aviation school.
“Indeed, it is a rare and special occasion to see JMAS become fully operational and successful, having seen the early days. Today’s graduation is the culmination of countless hours of hard work and determination by personnel from our respective countries,” the High Commissioner said.
He added that the establishment of JMAS represents a significant milestone in the course of the longstanding and mutually beneficial relationship between the Canadian Forces and the Jamaica Defence Force. Mr Kingsley also stated that Canada is committed to assisting Jamaica in its efforts to confront its security threats.
“The Jamaican Military Aviation School will help Jamaica realise many of our shared goals. In particular, it will allow for more effective monitoring, regulation, and control of Jamaica’s airspace, coastal waters, and exclusive economic zone,” he said, adding that: “this centre of excellence for military aviation increases Jamaica’s contribution to regional and international security by providing an affordable and strategically located training centre for cadets from around the Caribbean.”.
Mr. Kingsley said Canada looks forward to continuing its contribution to the safe, secure, and prosperous development of the Caribbean through mechanisms such as the military training assistance programme.