The country’s newest soldiers yesterday got their first lesson with the Royal Bermuda Regiment’s sophisticated SA-80 rifles.
Recruit Camp soldiers were introduced to the standard issue weapon in a classroom – with a major emphasis on safety.
Instructors explained the workings of the SA-80 and the rigorous safety procedures that need to be learned before they get near a firing range.
Private Denishun Furbert, 18, from St George’s, said: “It’s something to really get used to, but I’m having a good experience and having fun.
“I like the rifles best – I’m looking forward to finally getting on the range.”
Private Destyn Ming-Santucci, 19, from Somerset, said he had enjoyed the first lessons on the rifle.
He added: “There are many reasons I joined the Regiment, but I wanted to get better as a person.
“I like the exercise and physical training most, even though it’s hard.”
The two were speaking as soldiers entered their third day of the two week introduction to military life at Warwick Camp.
The 30-plus new soldiers, bolstered by five Officer Cadets from the just-formed Cayman Regiment sent to Bermuda for basic training, earlier practised their parade ground moves under the eagle eye of Drill Instructor Colour Sergeant Shanté Arnold.
Private Stefan Demello, 30, from Warwick, said: “I did Army Cadets and Sea Cadets, so I know the basics. It’s good – I’m enjoying it. The discipline is good as well – I like everything except PT.”
He added: “I joined because I wanted to better myself and I want to be part of the Coast Guard as a career. The discipline is good as well.”
C/Sgt Arnold, the first woman Drill Instructor to work at Recruit Camp, added: “The soldiers seem keen and they’re giving their best effort, which I appreciate.
“This is their second lesson and they’re learning how to march and halt, get into proper ranks and dress themselves off.”
She added: “They ask questions if they’re not sure about something and they’re attentive – they’re a pretty good bunch. There are some who are struggling, but they’ll get better because they’re working as a team.”
C/Sgt Arnold admitted to a touch of stage fright on her first appearance as a Drill Instructor.
But she added: “I’m doing pretty well. The nerves are still there somewhat, but that’s to be expected. You get one lesson done, that gives you confidence for the next one.”
Lieutenant Samuel Hewitt, the platoon commander for Recruit Camp, said: “The new recruits are getting into the spirit of it and they’re keen to learn.
“They want to learn new things and it’s a good, diverse bunch. We have Bermudians, people from the Dominican Republic, as well as Jamaica and the five from the Cayman Islands.”
Lt Hewitt added: “The soldiers want to be here beyond their three-and-a-half years and use their skills in different parts of the Regiment and gain more skills for life – things as simple as more discipline, fitness or more qualifications in trades they already have.”
The troops also got a visit from the RBR Commander-in-Chief, Governor John Rankin, who toured the camp and told them the RBR was “absolutely a key part” in the maintenance of a safe and secure Bermuda – which he saw firsthand when Hurricane Humberto struck last September.
Mr Rankin added: “It was the men and women of the Royal Bermuda Regiment who deployed to both ends of the island before the hurricane hit and got the island back on its feet immediately thereafter.”
He said that the RBR also deployed to Turks & Caicos on a humanitarian and disaster relief mission after the UK Overseas Territory was devastated by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
He told the recruits: “As members of the Regiment, you will be trained throughout your period of service. You will learn skills that will not just help the Regiment in its work, but also in your own lives.”
Mr Rankin said: “I’m proud of what the Royal Bermuda Regiment does on this island and I believe I can take pride in the work you all do helping Bermuda and helping other Overseas Territories.”