For Michael Jeremy Hill vacation is officially over.
He is now a teen-aged soldier in the British Royal Artillery and could soon be deployed to war-ridden Afghanistan.
While it is unlikely that Jeremy, 18, would see combat, making the move to Afghanistan could put him and his compatriots in harm’s way.
He credits his time spend in the Cayman Islands Cadet Corps to his desire to serve.
Jeremy confesses that he was a rebellious and defiant teenager; he wanted nothing more during earlier school years than to be popular for all the wrong reasons.
“I was very rebellious, just like a lot of young people these days,” he said. “While attending high school it was typical for me to do whatever was necessary to be popular or amusing to the girls. Had it not been for the discipline instilled in me through the Cayman Islands Cadet Corps, I could have easily gotten into trouble with the law, and probably ruin my future.”
He saluted the tutoring and life coaching he received locally from Maj. Ricardo Henry. He said those lessons formed the premise of his discipline and paved the way for his success. Jeremy hopes his addition to the British Royal Artillery will help promote positive values.
He is the son of Caymanian businessman Stanley Hill and Tracey Hill, a resident of New Castle, England. While attending George Hicks High School/PACE, he joined the Cayman Islands Cadet Corps and remained a member for three years.
At age 14, Jeremy left Cayman to join his mother in New Castle, England, where he attended the Prudhoe Community High School and joined the British Royal Artillery at 17.
He surprised many of his military comrades with the revelation of his origin.
“We are from a background where we like to ‘chill out’; that is the way some people tend to look at us and although this reputation is not confined to Caymanians, we are very much included,” Jeremy said.
With the possibility of deployment staring at him, the soldier is quite ecstatic and applauds the wisdom of military training and salutes the Cayman Islands Cadet Corps as the foundation of his vision.
He said war can be devastating, but that military presence and activities are not all about destruction and death.
“The military is not all about massive destruction, as is sometimes suggested by a stigma. Military deployment is sometimes primarily focused on the protection of the innocent,” he said.
As a result of the terrorist attacks on the United States of America on 11 September, 2001, which claimed thousands of civilian lives, anti-terrorism initiatives were launched. The US and its international allies, including Britain, have been deploying troops to Afghanistan, a country suspected to be a hideout for perpetrator terrorists.
The War on Terror is said to be designed for the early detection, immobilisation and apprehension of suspected terrorists, dismantling of terrorist networks and terror cells to prevent further attacks. A deployment of personnel from the British Royal Artillery to the region of Afghanistan would not be for frontline combat, but a mission primarily for observation. There does exist; however, the possibility of random attacks on troops, which could result in fatalities.
With a calm disposition and humble tone, the young soldier expressed concern about the youths of these Islands.
“A lot of the crimes that are being committed in Cayman are as a result of juvenile delinquency. The rate of crime could be significantly lowered or avoided if more of the young people were constructively engaged. The Cayman Islands Cadet Corps is an institution that has disciplined me and it can work for many others,” he said. “The Cadet Corps could be expanded to reach out and appeal to more of our youngsters. It could be like a college and a medium for the nurturing, preparation and recruitment of prospects for the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service. The Cadet Corps teaches you how and gives you the courage to make sound decisions for yourself.
“Teenagers need to be reminded that there is life after high school and education does not have to end there. Even if you are not an academic genius or a whiz kid, something positive can still come from your life. Many of our young people are lacking examples right now and they need to be in more contact with people whose success came as a result of better quality decisions in their lives.”
Lt. Col. Bobeth Daley-O’Garro, acting commandant of the Cayman Islands Cadet Corps, remembers Jeremy as a dedicated, trainable and respectable cadet.
“I remember when his parents signed him up and initially he did not want to join, but over time, he picked up very well and became a good example.”
Established in March 2002, the Cayman Islands Cadet Corps is designed to teach high school students the value of citizenship, leadership, service to the community, personal responsibility, and a sense of accomplishment, while instilling in them self-esteem, teamwork and self-discipline. It prepares them for responsible leadership roles while making them aware of their rights, responsibilities, and privileges as Caymanians. The programme is a stimulus for promoting graduation from high school, and it provides instruction and opportunities to help benefit the student, community and territory.