by Charles Gladden
BELIZE CITY, Mon. Dec. 4, 2023
A graduation ceremony was held at the Mile 4 headquarters of the Belize Coast Guard on Friday, December 1, to mark the entry of 59 recruits—collectively known as Intake 11 – into this arm of Belize’s national security apparatus and also to celebrate the Belize Coast Guard’s 18th year of service to the country.
“Fifty-nine recruits graduated and were promoted to the rank of Seaman Apprentice, and the training lasted for thirteen weeks. We commenced training in September [which] included an induction into the Belize Coast Guard. The whole aim of the training is to convert them [from a] civilian person into a military person that includes military doctrine – physical fitness, weapon handling and a little bit of law enforcement – all in within a disciplined environment,” said Rear Admiral Elton Bennett, Commandant of the Belize Coast Guard.
During an interview with Amandala, Rear Admiral Bennett mentioned that this year, the Belize Coast Guard received approximately 700 applicants for entry into the Coast Guard, and that number was whittled down to 500. Subsequently, 150 potential recruits were sent home after failing to meet the necessary physical standards during routine tests, and ultimately the top 60 were selected for training.
“When they arrive in recruit training, that doesn’t mean that they are in; we cycled out somewhere around 45 recruits during the first couple weeks of training. They dropped out for different reasons, for being medically or mentally unfit. [They were] ill-prepared for basic training and some of them got injured during the early weeks. So, we just cycled out about 45 recruits that showed, and we replaced them with candidates that were on a waiting list. Those fifty-nine that you saw represented the best of the applicants of the Belize Coast Guard,” said Rear Admiral Bennett.
The Prime Minister of Belize, Hon. John Briceño delivered the keynote address at the graduation ceremony.
“Today, we celebrate your dedication, your resilience, and your commitment to serving and protecting our beloved nation. I hope I speak for those of you who are not able to speak when I say, thank you to all those who supported you through your studies and training. Your success today is not just yours, but theirs as well. In a short while you step out as graduates of the Belize Coast Guard, but don’t lose sight of what comes with this moment. Remember, you carry with you the weight of responsibility that comes with safeguarding our maritime borders, protecting our fisheries, and [aiding] those in need at sea. But do not let this intimidate you. Remember, your training and experience have equipped you with the skills necessary to face the challenges ahead,” he said.
wards were given to a few exceptional recruits. Marlon Cucul received two awards: for Champion Shot and Champion Swimmer. The Champion Female award was presented to Jianna Vanegas and Elden Dawson was named the Champion Recruit.