Minister of National Security, Hon. Peter Bunting, is hailing the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) as an invaluable institution, noting that as the country’s last line of defence, it can be regarded as the ultimate guarantor of Jamaica’s sovereignty and democracy.
The Minister was speaking at the 45th staging of the Jamaica Regiment’s Victoria Cross dinner on Friday (May 25), at the Jamaica Officers Club at Up Park Camp.
He said that as Jamaica celebrates its 50th anniversary of Independence this year, it is fortunate to have an institution like the JDF, which is also celebrating its jubilee year.
In addition to defending the country’s borders and helping to restore and maintain law and order, Mr. Bunting said the force is also instrumental in humanitarian and disaster relief operations, noting that the JDF was among the first respondents on the ground in the aftermath of the devastating January 2010 earthquake in Haiti.
The Minister noted further that the JDF boasts high-quality soldiers and officers, who are not only warriors but gifted scholars as well. “I have encountered a thoroughly professional, bright, articulate, loyal and dedicated (group) and Jamaicans should recognise the treasure and valuable institution that exists in the JDF,” he stated.
Mr. Bunting said he is “very proud to have this office as Minister of National Security” and to be of assistance to the various units that do yeoman service on behalf of the country.
The Victoria Cross celebrations are customarily held during the latter part of May each yearto pay tribute to two soldiers, who were the first non-Europeans to be awarded Britain’s highest award for bravery in battle.
To qualify for this award the soldier must render service in the face of enemy action, above and beyond the call of duty.
The JDF has no living recipients of the Victoria Cross, but honours, as part of its heritage, the two West Indian soldiers: Sergeant William Gordon of Jamaica and Private Samuel Hodge of the Virgin Islands, who received this military decoration.
They were decorated with the Victoria Cross for their great bravery on the battlefield during the 19th Century campaigns of West Africa, whilst serving in the West India Regiment.
Sergeant William Gordon and Private Samuel Hodge had respectively enlisted in the first and fourth Battalions of the West India Regiment.
By O. Rodger Hutchinson, JIS Reporter