Bermudian Soldiers Continue to Shine on Final Phase
The Bermuda Regiment has begun their final phase of their overseas camp, which includes some of the toughest elements the soldiers will have to face including confidence courses, unarmed combat, and capsize drills.
The hot dry days and unseasonably cold nights are continuing to challenge the endurance of Bermuda’s soldiers at Camp Lejeune. However, the men and women have maintained their decorum and have met or exceeded the high standards set for them by the Regiment’s training team. Major Julian Wheddon, the Regiment’s Training Officer has said that, “The troops have performed very well indeed. Not only are their soldiering skills at a good standard, but they are well disciplined, and not giving in to the fatigue that is wearing on all of them. They aren’t acting as teams, they are teams, drawing strength and relying on each other when it gets difficult. They are communicating well and developing from each new challenge that they face and overcome. They should be proud of themselves – I am definitely proud of what we have done.” The Marines that have been embedded with the Regiment have remarked on many occasions that the Regiment’s genial troops bring a fresh perspective to soldering, and that the Bermudian sense of humour is first rate.
However, the troops aren’t always enjoying each other’s social banter. During the days they are out in the scorching Carolina sun mastering their fire and manoeuvre techniques, section drills, and applying their marksmanship principles. When their weapons are in storage, they are taken to the dense woods and taught advanced navigation techniques by some of the world’s best trackers. After dinner, the troops will either participate on a night ambush, medical training, or face the Devil Dog Confidence Course. When viewing the Devil Dog Training facility, one can’t help but be reminded of the training area at Parris Island in the film Full Metal Jacket, complete with 65ft “Stairway to Heaven” climbing wall, swinging logs, and cargo nets. Last night, it was 3 Platoon’s turn to meet the challenge. In keeping with their attitude displayed from the first day of the camp, most of the young men couldn’t wait to give it a try. However, the course quickly took its toll on the participants from Private to Major; the arms and legs that were once inexhaustible began shaking under the physical strain needed to surmount each obstacle. The troops may have been hot, sweaty, dusty, bruised, and exhausted, but they would not give up; they hadn’t given up on anything so far, and they certainly weren’t going to start now. They responded as soldiers. The troops rallied together, verbally and physically spurring on each other; yelling, sweating, some bleeding, but not leaving anyone behind. In the end, everyone finished, maybe not in record time, but they certainly achieved some personal bests. At least three times the phrase, “Hey bie, I’ve never done anything like that before” was heard in between gasped breaths.
The main body of soldiers have moved from their forward operating base to the “Sea Huts”, which is far less salubrious then the name implies. Often referred to as “Camp Itchywowwa” by the Regiment because of the healthy population of mosquitoes, it is just above the classification of “austere”. The rustic wooden huts would probably not stand a windy season in Bermuda, but they keep the rain and insects out and seem like palaces to the weary troops.
Members of Support Company including the Medics and Boat Troop have just returned from a short reprieve needed to study before their final exams. When successful the Medics will receive certificates indicating what their training comprised, and will spend their final days working shift in the Navy Hospital assisting in real time medical incidents. The Boat Troop are currently preparing themselves for the pinnacle of their trip which is the sea rescue and capsize drills. All their training has been delivered by front line US Coast Guard instructors from their base in Camp Johnson.
The Regiment’s Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Brian Gonsalves said, “The troops have displayed a more mature attitude this year than previous years. When they are getting debriefs they are ready to accept criticism and make changes to avoid making the same mistakes, and they are reaping the benefits. There is a healthy level of competition between the sections and that is good for everyone. I understand that not everyone wants to be in the Army, but you wouldn’t see that when observing the contingent that has come over this year. There’s no obvious resistance, and I think that’s because we have all worked hard to ensure the activities are enjoyable. The training team and all of the instructors have done a splendid job.”
The Regimental Sergeant Major Gavin Lee adds, “The overall performance of the Battalion has improved steadily over the years and this is because of the professionalism of the commanders across the ranks. We’re fortunate to have some passionate and committed Non Commissioned Officers and Warrant Officers. They influence the behaviour of the soldiers, and we rely on them to ensure that the administration and conduct of the activities is conducive to a productive training environment. It’s a pleasure to see everyone working so hard as a team, and their attitude remaining positive.”
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