Governor John Rankin has thrown a special reception to honour the decades of service to the island’s military by Royal Bermuda Regiment Honorary Colonel Eugene Raynor.
The Government House event was held to mark the retirement of Col Raynor after 20 years as Honorary Colonel and almost 60 years in Bermuda’s armed services.
Mr Rankin also used the occasion to thank former RBR Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel David Gibbons, who will succeed Col Raynor as Honorary Colonel, for taking up the role and to welcome Major William Madeiros as the new chairman of the Defence Board and Promotions Board to replace Col Gibbons.
The Honorary Colonel’s role is to advise the Governor, the Commander-in-Chief of the RBR, and the Regiment on military matters and to promote military service.
Mr Rankin said Col Raynor had joined the segregated military in 1961 as a private soldier in the Bermuda Militia Artillery.
He added: “You were a founding member of the integrated Bermuda Regiment and rose to become Commanding Officer between 1980 and 1984.”
Mr Rankin, speaking at the reception last Friday night, said that Col Raynor was also the first black Commanding Officer of the defence force and was awarded an OBE for his service.
He added: “I know enough to know that such awards are not made easily and are for genuine service to your country.”
Col Raynor, who will continue to sit on the Defence Board, was presented with a miniature replica of a Commanding Officer’s sword to mark his retirement.
Mr Rankin said: “Your advice has been valued by successive Commanding Officers of the Regiment and also by my predecessors as Governor and myself. Your service has been outstanding.”
National Security Minister Wayne Caines said he was a Junior Leader when Col Raynor was CO of the Regiment and the young soldiers were in awe of him and learned from him.
He added: “I represent your legacy as Minister of National Security. Thank you for pouring into me as a young man. Thank you for that.”
Col Gibbons told Col Raynor: “I joined the Regiment when you were Commanding Officer and I was commissioned when you were Commanding Officer…and I’m here now and it’s an extremely proud moment to take over from you.”
Lt Col David Curley, the CO of the RBR, said he had joined up after Col Raynor stood down as CO, but knew him in his honorary role.
He told Col Raynor: “You were out and about with the troops in the field and giving advice to privates and Commanding Officers.
“You would always ask those key questions – I think it opened my eyes immensely and helped me to get the post I am in now.”