Sat | Dec 7, 2019

Cadet Force laying strong foundation for youth - Movement celebrates 75 years

Published:Tuesday | October 8, 2019 | 12:06 AMJason Cross/Gleaner Writer
Major Gerald Ford presents the proclamation to Dr Patricia Dunwell, custos of St Andrew, at the Jamaica Combined Cadet Force’s 75th anniversary church service at St Luke’s Anglican Church in Cross Roads, 
St Andrew, on Sunday.
Major Gerald Ford presents the proclamation to Dr Patricia Dunwell, custos of St Andrew, at the Jamaica Combined Cadet Force’s 75th anniversary church service at St Luke’s Anglican Church in Cross Roads, St Andrew, on Sunday.

With its track record of producing some of Jamaica’s top commercial airline pilots, military leaders and engineers, all students should join the Jamaica Combined Cadet Force (JCCF), according to Major Gerald Ford, who heads the organisation’s marine, air and engineering battalion.

The JCCF, which has been operating in high schools across Jamaica since 1943, celebrated its 75th anniversary with a service at St Luke’s Anglican Church in Cross Roads, St Andrew, on Sunday.

Making his pitch, Ford explained that his career now as a commercial pilot began with him joining the cadet unit while attending Manchester High School in central Jamaica.

“I got a scholarship through the Cadet Force. After completing studies, I flew for Air Jamaica, and today, I am a captain for Caribbean Airlines,” he said.

Ford stressed that the JCCF conditions young men and women for top leadership roles in the country and elsewhere and should be considered by all students.

Among those he highlighted was current chief of defence staff in the Jamaica Defence Force, Lt Gen Rocky Meade, who he said was a cadet while at Wolmer’s Boys’ School. After completing sixth form, Meade delved right into the military.

“Looking back, the JCCF is real empowerment. It empowered me from an early age. Once you go through the ranks, there are numerous levels to the whole thing. Just like operating a business, there is an operational section, an accounting section, and there is marketing and communications. If you went through the Cadet Force, you would have gone through all four.

That empowers people to do anything they want to do. All students should be a part of the Jamaica Combined Cadet Force because of the training, discipline and empowerment they will receive. That can make Jamaica a much better place,” he said.

Branching out

The JCCF’s marine, air, engineering services have been strategically implemented in high schools such as Denham Town, Donald Quarrie, St Andrew Technical, Edith Dalton James, Penwood, Pembroke Hall, Charlie Smith and Tivoli Gardens.

“When a cadet leaves school, at the end of the day, he or she would have had some affiliation with air, marine or engineer training so that he will be empowered in the future, whether or not they get subjects.

A lot of it is youth mitigation and social intervention,” Ford stated.

jason.cross@gleanerjm.com