Cayman’s first regimental officers commenced their training with the Royal Bermuda Regiment over the weekend.
The five junior officers, who were picked from a field of 70 applicants, joined more than 30 Bermudian volunteers for basic training, according to a media release from the Royal Bermuda Regiment.
The officers will undergo three weeks of initial training with the Royal Bermuda Regiment before heading off for further training at the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst, UK, later this year.
The five will serve as full-time officers for a year before becoming reservists and reverting to their previous careers.
Royal Bermuda Regiment Corporal Dijon Arruda will help train the new intake of soldiers.
He is a part-time soldier who works in purchasing at the Hamilton Princess Hotel in Bermuda’s capital, Hamilton, according to the statement.
Arruda said it was a privilege to get the opportunity to help train the Cayman contingent.
“At the same time, it shows what the RBR can produce, not only for our own, but [for] others looking for that kind of training. All going well, and it should, there will be other Overseas Territories looking to start a regiment, and I would be happy to be a part of that package,” he added.
The establishment of a Cayman Regiment was announced late last year.
Premier Alden McLaughlin, speaking in the Legislative Assembly last month, stressed the importance of the development of a regiment, especially in light of the 28 Jan. earthquake.
He added that the regiment will be a pathway for Caymanians to get training and become officers and will be a “symbol of pride”.
Government has previously said the officers currently being trained will assist senior officers to recruit the first 50 reservists, all of whom will receive basic training in Bermuda in July.
Former UK Royal Dragoon Guards officer Simon Watson was appointed last month as commanding officer for the local regiment. Watson is supported by Simon Spiers and former Trinidad and Tobago judge Andre Mon Desir, who serves as senior legal advisor.
Bodden Town brother and sister Theodore and Shandice Kelly are among those in Cayman’s contingent undergoing training.
Theodore Kelly, 29, a property manager and assistant boxing coach, said he was relieved they had been both been picked as they are quite close.
He and his sister were both in the Cayman Islands Cadet Corps. He said in the RBR statement that, as a former master sergeant, he had considered a career as a British Army officer a decade ago, but he wound up going down another path.
“People say second chances don’t come, but I signed up for it and just did my best. It wasn’t a competition as such,” he said in the statement.
For Shanice Kelly, 27, the prospect of two weeks of tough training in the regiment was not as challenging as the climbing wall at the Warwick Camp assault course.
“I’m not scared of heights, but I am scared of falling,” she said in the RBR statement.
Other Cayman cadets include Halston Farley and Gabe Rabess. They said they were happy to be in Bermuda as the camp began on Sunday.
Bodden Town resident Farley, 35, said he was looking forward to seeing how things are done in Bermuda “because we have to go back and start our regiment up”.
Police officer Rabess, 48, said his RCIPS training and time as an firefighter in London have prepared him for the rigours of military life.
“I’m not really nervous. I’m looking forward to the weapons handling and map reading because I haven’t done that for a while,” he said in the statement.
Former Cayman cadet solider Jonassi Swaby, 26, also once a Cayman Cadet Force junior soldier, said he welcomed the opportunity.
“I’m happy to be in Bermuda – I love it, except for the cold. I aim to get refreshed on my drill, become a better leader, and build my confidence with my peers. This will get us back in shape and prepare us physically and mentally for Sandhurst,” he said.