Remarks by
SATURDAY 10 May 2008

Your Excellency Hon. Arthur Hanna,
Mr. Clifford Scavella, Commander of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force,
Members of the Clergy,
Hon. Minister of National Security Mr. Tommy Turnquest,
Hon. Cabinet Ministers,
Members of Parliament,
Senior Officers, Officers and Marines of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force,
Family Members of the deceased and survivors of the HMBS Flamingo,

Ladies and Gentlemen:

We have come to this place this morning to once again remember, pay tribute to and express deep appreciation for the supreme sacrifice of four gallant marines: Able Seaman Fenrick Sturrup, and Marine Seamen Edward William, David Tucker, Austin Smith, who bravely gave their lives in service to this country twenty-eight years ago.

I recall the day vividly. The news from Ragged Island revealed that one of our craft had been sunk by military jets out of the Republic of Cuba. Four marines had been lost, – the community at Ragged Island and The Bahamas feared for what might happen next.

The incident served to unite us as a people and as a nation. And it served to raise the Royal Bahamas Defence Force in the esteem of all Bahamians.

I am pleased to serve as a voice for the Bahamian people today in acknowledging the contribution of the fallen marines and in thanking their families for the service of their loved ones to this Commonwealth. On that fateful day, 10 May, 1980, we had not quite achieved our 7th anniversary of an independent nation.

In the sixth chapter of the Book of Isaiah, the Prophet wrote these words: “I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.” The lost marines answered that call and offered up themselves in national service.

This morning we are happy to dedicate this Memorial Park and Monument as a permanent expression of our national gratitude to the courageous four who gave their lives to preserve and protect the territorial integrity of our young country.

I was pleased to learn that most of the work to create this memorial was carried out by the men and women of the Defence Force in honour of their fallen comrades. I congratulate you one and all.

I also congratulate the spirit of the corps of marines of our Defence Force and thank the men and women who continue to join and to serve in this arm of public service notwithstanding that the very mandate of the Defence Force to protect our sovereignty sometimes place them directly in harms way.

Dedication to such service, especially in times of growing criminal activity is not easy.

It has been said that courage is not the absence of fear, but the strength to confront fear. You, the men and women of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, serve in the courageous tradition of your fallen comrades. You know and understand the danger of your duty and still you pursue it.

In this tradition you serve as beacons of inspiration and motivation to all of us. We recognize that service on the seas was not easy twenty-eight years ago when the HMBS Flamingo ventured forth on its fateful patrol mission; and we know that it is not easy today.

I reiterate to you the commitment of the Government to support you in the execution of your national duty. We commit to continue to improve, upgrade and expand the tools available to you in the performance of your duties. In this regard, we are now seeking proposals for the upgrade and expansion of your fleet to take account of anticipated needs up to 2014. The new craft to be acquired will expand and enhance the capability of the Defence Force.

And, we commit to continue to review your terms and conditions of service.

Senior Officers, Officers and marines,

This morning we pay well-deserved tribute to the four men who lost their lives on HMBS Flamingo. Once again we convey the heartfelt thanks, appreciation and gratitude of the Bahamian people to the families of each of the marines.

I have no doubt that this memorial park and monument will serve to remind countless future generations of the sacrifice made by four courageous colleagues and to highlight the continued faithful service of the many who serve in this organization and our nation

It is my hope and expectation that Bahamians from all walks of life, recalling these sacrifices will be inspired also to serve our nation as productive, law abiding and patriotic citizens.

Good morning and God Bless.