Twenty-five members of the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) were on January 18 presented with the first bar to the medal of honour for meritorious service for distinguished conduct or performing acts of bravery.
Governor-General, His Excellency the Most Hon. Sir Patrick Allen, awarded the medals during a brief ceremony at King’s House.
Chief of Defence Staff, Major General Antony Anderson, headed the list of recipients, which included personnel from all ranks of the JDF, including captains, lieutenant colonels, majors, warrant officers, sergeants, corporals, and privates.
In congratulating the recipients, Minister of National Security, Senator the Hon. Dwight Nelson, said the presentation indicates an appreciation for what they have done, encouraging them to continue along the path of excellent service.
"I think it is important. I think meritorious service ought to be rewarded and particularly in the security forces whether in the army or the police force. The officers, who rise above normal expectation, and perform excellent duties for their country, ought to be motivated to continue performing at the highest level," he told JIS News.
In accepting his medal, Lieutenant Colonel Geoffrey Roper, who has been a member of the defence force for 25 years, said it was an honour to be recognised.
"It's always an honour serving in the Jamaica Defence Force and to be recognised for one’s service is always a great honour. It’s with pride that all of us here have received such an honour and we look forward to continue serving this way,” he told JIS News.
Sergeant Marshall Zambia Fitzgerald, stated that receiving the award is “a joyous feeling.” He was recognised for performing an act of gallantry in 2001, which saved a life.
Private Granville Henry, who was honoured for his heroic attempt to save a fallen colleague, said he felt privileged to receive the medal.
In 2001, members of the army came under fire from gunmen along Mountain View Avenue. "One of our soldiers were shot and killed and we had to retrieve him through horrendous gun battle. I am very sorry that he is not here with us today but the occasion is very memorable and I will cherish it," said the 19-year army veteran.
Corporal Andrew Ward, who was also engaged in the 2001 gun battle, informed that the medal is an encouragement for him to continue serving his country.
The medal of honour for meritious service may be awarded to officers and other members of the uniformed services, who have performed distinguished service or have displayed distinguished conduct or bravery. Officers receive silver gilt, while other ranks receive silver.
A bar to the medal of honour for meritorious service may be awarded for any additional meritorious service and a rose on the ribbon shall denote a bar.
CONTACT: CHRIS PATTERSON