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Oct 1, 2021

Eric Neal: The Man Behind the Uniform

But who was Major Eric Neal? Duane Moody has more on the man who touched many lives and those who are mourning his passing.

 

[S.J.C. Alum performance]

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

The vocalist in this video is the younger Eric Neal, alum of Saint John’s College in Belize City along with fellow classmates.

He would go on to become Major Eric Neal, a decorated officer of the Belize Defence Force.

 

Lt. Col. Anthony Velasquez

Lt. Col. Anthony Velasquez, Chief of Staff, B.D.F.

“He truly envisioned service. Major Neal was one of the highly educated officers that we had in the Belize Defence Force. He had a masters of arts and strategy security studies and he had a war college diploma based on international security and combating terrorism. He was also a justice of the peace and as everyone knows, he was the aide de camp of the former Governor General Sir Colville.”

 

During an interview with Neal earlier this year, he spoke of the honour he was given to serve the head of state for fourteen years.

 

Duane Moody

“Talk to us about what that experience has been like?”

 

Major Eric Neal

Major Eric Neal, Former Aide de Camp

“I would say rewarding, hectic at times, it is very taxing on my family because I have been the aide de camp longer than I have been married actually and my daughter when she was pretty younger used to rail up because I didn’t have much time with her due to the fact that I was either on my primary duties as a soldier and seconded role as the aide de camp. I said rewarding because his Excellency is one of my childhood heroes, and not many young boys, particularly young boys who come from the ghetto, from the slums of Belize City, would be able to serve their childhood heroes.”

 

But he was not only the aide de camp; he was a father, a husband, a son, a brother and a role model to so many. Neal was a success story and someone to look up to. As you pour through social media, the many persons he has had an impact on are sharing memories they’ve had with the deceased soldier. Long-time friend and former SJC classmate says that “Rico”, “Maje” or “Solo”, as he was affectionately known exemplified what it meant to be a patriot and service to the country.

 

Isani Cayetano

Isani Cayetano, Friend of Deceased

“For me, reflecting on Eric Neal. His is the story of a reconciliation between father and son. We had a small reunion recently and there were a bunch of us who were together as former classmates and students of SJC and the entire time that he was with us, he kept talking to us about having made amends with his father because there was a strained relationship and the importance of being able to bring things together, full circle and reconcile for whatever differences because life is short and he kept impressing that on us. Not knowing this would have been our final reunion with him. He was a very exemplary individual, very high moral standards for himself and for his country. In terms of the job that he does as a B.D.F. officer, he is very exemplary. You think about people who make the uniform proud, so to speak, you think about Eric Neal in much the same way you thought about Victor martin; these were people who wore that B.D.F. uniform, and they were the pinnacle of what it is to be patriots, what it is to be someone who is compassionate and in love with his country and serving heartlessly.”

 

Neal was also the chief scout at the Scout Association of Belize and has had a huge impact on the lives of cubs and scouts he engaged with.

 

Jaelin Cacho

Jaelin Cacho, Patrol Leader, Scouts of Belize

“I was a little cub and I was shy and he turned around and talked to me and tell me, “Hi, how are you? What is your name?” And after that I just got calm and I was like somebody weh I know understand. To me, he was a role model, a person weh yo could look up to – a person weh noh tolerate no nonsense or nothing. He was very happy – every time yo come ina di place, yo woulda see a smile on his face. He was just a very happy person. He brightens the room when he comes in.”

 

Adrian Pott

Adrian Pott, National Youth Representative, National Scout Assembly

“For me, Major Neal has been one of my mentors – one of the few mentors I have under this association. So his advice to me is very crucial in what I do and how I go about with my scout and also playing out my role at the national level.

The entire association has felt this. This morning when I heard about his passing, it took a while for me to actually sit down and grasp what I heard. But after a while, it really started setting in and it was then that all the emotions started to come down. Chief might not be around as much, but once you come in contact with him, you cannot forget him.”

 

Duane Moody for News Five.


Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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