In March of 1976 I was privileged to lead a detachment of soldiers on a classified training mission. The mission was very successful, but there was one casualty, – Cpl Peter Groomes -, a fit and exemplary soldier who departed this life, during that mission.
In December of 1976, most of the members of that detachment were tasked with hacking a way into the Timehri jungle, off the Linden Highway, on a mission to locate a site and build a base, to house their own fledgling unit – soon to be named Support Weapons Command.
These two exercises were accomplished with much blood, sweat and tears promoting a camaraderie and team spirit that molded the men and women who were involved, into a tightly knit professional unit.
It was with unanimous agreement, that the encampment was named Camp Groomes, in honor of our fallen comrade, Peter Groomes.
The accidental destruction of Camp Groomes on 18 December, 2000, with the loss of three lives and serious injuries to many fellow soldiers, was a misfortune unlike any other to occur in the GDF… ever. That event truly stunned us all.
It is against that backdrop, that I felt a resurgence of deep hurt, disappointment and shock when the recent Kaieteur News article of 13 June 2017, came to my attention.
It is amazing, to say the least, that after 17 years and a BOI as recent as two years ago, the affected soldiers have not yet been satisfactorily compensated and protected. It is also very disappointing that after resumed efforts of the Guyana Legion, in early 2016, and a COI of 2016/2017, no satisfactory resolution of the matter has been forthcoming.
While, in my partisan view, little was expected of the previous government, surely this government, this coalition government, a government led by many of our peers and fellow veterans, should be well inclined and motivated to take care of its natural constituents, veterans in general, and these veterans who put their lives on the line for their country.
While I respect the efforts that may have been made to secure the future well- being of these victims so far, the fact of the matter is, that this is no way to treat veterans who have served honorably and made sacrifices. The mission has, obviously, not been accomplished. No slothful bureaucracy should be allowed to prolong such injustice.
Camp Groomes holds a very, very special place in my heart. The story surrounding ‘the birth and death’ of Camp Groomes was a unique experience for the officers and ranks who lived it. It was the impetus, for the distinguished accomplishments of the unit, Support Weapons Command, that I had the privilege of leading, from 1976 to 1979.
I perceive this state of affairs to be gravely unjust and I am compelled to urge that we, as veterans, officers and ranks, do everything within our power to push this cause as, just and politic, in relief of these dead, wounded and hurt veterans.
I have initiated a “Camp Groomes Initiative” to raise funds and provide some interim relief to the victims of this unresolved tragedy. The goal is to raise 5,000 (US) … (1 Million Guy) …by 1 December 2017.
I am setting this initiative rolling with a modest contribution of $500.00 (US).
I humbly ask for your contribution and support of this effort, in whatever way you can, including the circulation of this letter, to other veterans.
Concerned Veteran of Camp Groomes and the GDF – 917-301-1257
For more information or to make a contribution, you may also call or email: