Bermuda’s Soldiers Return From Camp Lejeune

May 18, 2015

Regiment troops returned at the weekend from two weeks of training at a US Marine Corps base in North Carolina.

And the Island’s troops got the US Marines seal of approval after a massive final exercise in riot control at a Camp Lejeune town specially built for training in urban operations.

[L to R] Prize fighters:  Lance Corporal Melissa Brangman and Sergeant Peter-Paul Taylor after the awards ceremony for outstanding performance during Island Warrior 15 at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

Lance Corporal Melissa Brangman and Sergeant Peter-Paul Taylor

Troops defending a series of key points were also put to the test, fending off attackers with help from riot-equipped Quick Reaction Forces [QRF].

Marine Corporal Trevor Hotz, 25, from Florida, acted as a rioter as Bermuda Regiment soldiers put their training into practice.

Cpl Hotz, who stands 6’2” and weighs 220lbs, said: “I had a good time – once they were using their formations and shields, they were really effective and we had to back off.”

Homeward bound: Regiment soldiers board their plane in North Carolina for the flight home.

Homeward bound Regiment soldiers

Cpl Hotz – a former high school American football player – tested Regiment soldiers to the limit by repeatedly rushing their shields.

Earlier, Bermuda troops took part in pre-dawn strike operations to raid houses, capture insurgents and gather evidence like weapons, maps and cellphones.

Regiment soldiers parade for the prizegiving ceremony at Camp Lejeune.

In formation Regiment soldiers parade

Regiment communications specialist Lance Corporal Stephen Skinner said: “The toughest part was getting up this morning because I only had two hours sleep.”

But the 29-year-old graduate trainee with the Bermuda Monetary Authority from St George’s added: “The day was a lot of fun – the final exercise was good.

“I have been in the Operations Room and was out in the field as well, which was great.”

[L to R] Down to a T: Lance Corporal Melissa Brangman and Corporal Zelipha Gitari show off an Island Warrior T-shirt at the end of two weeks of tough training at Camp Lejeune.

Lance Corporal Melissa Brangman and Corporal Zelipha Gitari

Marine Private First Class Colin Allen, 18, from Texas, with other Marines and Bermuda soldiers, all armed with missiles, also went up against the Regiment riot squads.

He said: “I liked the confrontation – it was interesting doing the rushes and getting hit. The Bermuda soldiers were outstanding.

Regiment soldiers push back attackers during the final exercise at Camp Lejuene’s combat town.

Shields up Regiment soldiers

“They really took it to us – we didn’t have an easy time out there, that’s for sure.”

Bermuda Police Service public order instructor PC Brian MacNab, who was one of six police officers who joined Regiment soldiers at Camp Lejeune for firearms training in a hi-tech live fire house, added: “The Regiment put in an enormous effort and they have worked very hard.

“It was a good public order exercise – there was a lot of aggression and shield movement when they held road junctions and blocked them.

US Marines and Bermuda soldiers take on public order troops at Camp Lejeune.

Riot control US Marines and Bermuda soldiers

“Every tactic that they have in their repertoire has been exercised.”

The 180-strong group flew home from North Carolina on Saturday afternoon.

Regiment Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Michael Foster-Brown said: “This was the culminating public order exercise. We had the biggest riot to date and we threw everything at them we could and had a large number of complex scenarios running at the same time.”

Operational Support Unit [OSU] troops repel attackers during the major final exercise

Holdiing the line Operational Support Unit (OSU) troops

Col Foster-Brown added: “This is the most demanding exercise in internal security the Regiment has undertaken for some time.

“The sorts of situations they had to face means that they will be prepared for anything similar they might have to face in the future.

“I am proud of the way they got stuck in and performed after a very busy and tiring two weeks – it was a fitting end to a good overseas exercise.”

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