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Nov 27, 2015

Coastguard Graduates 45 New Recruits

Courage, Commitment and Respect—they are the core values of the Belize National Coast Guard, the maritime forces of the country. Today at the B.D.F. Air Wing, forty-five recruits joined the rank and file of the officers of the coastguard with great pump and circumstance. But the event was two-fold as the coastguard also celebrated his tenth anniversary. News Five’s Duane Moody was there and has this report.

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

Dressed in their crisp all-white uniforms and black shoes, forty-five recruits today officially graduated and joined the ranks of the Belize National Coast Guard. Every year, since 2008, the Coast Guard has been searching for a few good men—fifty to be exact. This year, over four hundred Belizean men and women applied to become seamen apprentices, to serve the country as part of the naval army. But after the rigorous training and screening process, only the best of the best are successful.

 

Rear Admiral John Borland

Rear Admiral John Borland, Commander, BNCG

“Twelve weeks of basic training; they undergo a series of performance qualifications to graduate at the end of twelve weeks as accomplished seamen apprentices. After they graduate today, they will undergo a one-year apprenticeship period before they really become seamen; that’s on the job training working in the fleet in various capacities on the boats as part of boarding teams, as part of their squads. And after one year, then they become accomplished seamen. What happened here over the last twelve weeks….the basic in the first five weeks was to transform them from being civilians to military minded people, where they respond to instructions, where they work as a team; they are taught to respect the chain of command, they are taught strict military discipline and routines.”

 

After the pump and circumstance and inspection of the Coastguard officers by the Governor General, five of the recruits were honored with awards and certificates for exemplary work during their twelve weeks of training prior to the passing out ceremony held today at the B.D.F. Air Wing in Ladyville. Overall Champion Recruit for intake number seven is twenty-two-year-old Jason Leslie of Corozal.

 

Jason Leslie

Jason Leslie, Champion Recruit, Intake #7, BNCG

“I’ve been representing my country in track and field and basically I love my country and I would love to serve them so this is probably the best way I see going and I really wanted to make my family proud so that’s why I pick this route.”

 

Reporter

“Talk to us about the training itself. How difficult was it and how did you manage to get through with such top marks?”

 

Jason Leslie

“Very difficult…This isn’t for anybody, I must admit.  You have to have a strong mind and willpower to push through the training for the three months. My motivation to do my best was my family. I want to make them proud and as you all see I accomplished what I set out.”

 

Today, the Champion Shot or best shooter was a female recruit from Punta Gorda. Diana Velasquez, is still very uncomfortable with using a gun, but says she persevered and received top honors for marksmanship.

 

Diana Velasquez

Diana Velasquez, Champion Shot, Intake #7, BNCG

“It was a big challenge because to get in it you8 had to do a big effort to actually complete the running, swimming and the school part. But nothing is impossible if you have God. And the twelve weeks training was drastically hard; for me, it was a challenge because I had a car accident so I have injuries. When we went for this champion shot, I was one of the person who didn’t want to go to range; I didn’t want to do it. But when we reached there, you can’t back down; you have to keep going forward.”

 

But the festivity was two-fold because the naval army of Belize is also celebrating its tenth anniversary as the Coastguard was formed on the twenty-eight of November 2005 with fifty-four officers—forty from the Belize Defense Force and fourteen from the Police Department. With ten years of development and growth, the coastguard is now three hundred and twenty strong.

 

John Saldivar

John Saldivar, Minister of National Security

“They protect Belize’s maritime spaces, industries, natural resources and commerce from threats both foreign and domestic, through the provision of Maritime Security and Safety Operations and they continue to demonstrate that the coastguard service is truly an essential element of our national security. Most of you will be assigned to areas where you will be required to perform in a manner where your military training and law enforcement duties will be executed with a high degree of understanding. It is my hope that the training that you’ve received over the past twelve weeks has prepared you for this type of challenged and that you are destined to face.”

 

The new recruits will either join the fleet unit as members of the boat crew or the engineering unit of the Coast Guard. Duane Moody for News Five.

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