Fifty members of the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force (TTDF) returned to Trinidad and Tobago on Saturday May 01, 2021 after being deployed on Tuesday April 13, 2021 to provide humanitarian assistance and disaster relief to the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines following the eruption of the La Soufriere Volcano.
Some of TTDF troops arrived at the Inter-Island Ferry Terminal in Port of Spain on board the Galleons Passage at approximately 12:00 noon and were welcomed home by Minister of National Security Fitzgerald Hinds and Chief of Defence Staff Air Vice Marshall Darryl Daniel. The other troops arrived at Staubles Bay, Chaguaramas, aboard the Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard vessel the TTS Brighton.
The Ministry of National Security said Trinidad and Tobago nationals were also repatriated from St. Vincent and the Grenadines today via the Galleons Passage. All returning nationals will be quarantined and treated in accordance with the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 protocols.
Addressing the returning troops, Minister Hinds commended them for answering the call to represent Trinidad and Tobago in support of the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
The Minister stated that from the feedback he received, “the men and women of the TTDF were self-sustaining and served with distinction during their two week (2) tour of duty abroad.” He noted that their quality service, indicative of the professional capacity of the TTDF, made Trinidad and Tobago proud.
Minister Hinds said he was thankful for the safe return of the troops and urged them to retain their positive morale as they continue to execute their duties going forward.
Chief of Defence Staff Air Vice Marshall Darryl Daniel congratulated the contingent for representing the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force with sterling service, stating that the troops served Trinidad and Tobago with excellence. He acknowledged the team for their quick mobilization on the ground and was also thankful for their safe return to Trinidad and Tobago. The Chief of Defence Staff wished the troops well as they enter their fourteen (14) day quarantine period and encouraged them to use the time to reenergize before being redeployed to local service.
Also on hand to welcome the troops home were Permanent Secretary (Ag.) in the Ministry of National Security Mr. Gary Joseph; Vice Chief of Defence Staff Brigadier General Dexter Francis; and Chief Executive Officer of the Office of Disaster Preparedness Major General (Ret’d) Rodney Smart.
While in St. Vincent and the Grenadines the troops met with key officials including that country’s Prime Minister; Director of the National Emergency Management Organisation (NEMO); and Commissioner of Police to determine the specific support required. The TTDF troops performed duties including:
- Assisting in the construction of Mobile Storage Units (MSUs) at the decommissioned E.T. Joshua Airport located in Arnos Vale, near Kingstown;
- Offloading disaster relief cargo from vessels and shipping containers at the Port of Kingstown; and
- Distributing relief items to displaced and vulnerable citizens affected by the volcanic activity.
Squadron Leader Marlon Dowrich led the TTDF personnel in St. Vincent and the Grenadines as Task Force Commander. When asked to comment on the experience, Squadron Leader Dowrich said he felt the team made a positive impact on that island. He stated that the contingent remains proud to have been selected to serve Trinidad and Tobago abroad in this manner. Squadron Leader Dowrich noted that the TTDF personnel were humbled by the gratitude shown by the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, for the assistance provided, saying further, that the positive sentiments received gave greater meaning to the adage “a little goes a long way.”
Representatives of the Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers’ Association (TTMA); Angostura; and Xtra Foods were also in attendance at the troops’ return to present them with tokens of appreciation for their exceptional service to the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The hampers containing food items and other supplies donated by the local business sector will be made available to all members of the returning contingent for the period of their quarantine.