FAMILY members and friends of the four Bahamian Marines killed in action 36 years ago during the sinking of HMBS Flamingo joined officers and marines of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force at a brief ceremony at the Coral Harbour Base for a special Morning Colours ceremony yesterday.
During the ceremony, attended by Minister of National Security Dr. Bernard Nottage and the Governor General, Dame Marguerite Pindling, the family of the fallen Marines and the surviving crewmembers were escorted to HMBS Flamingo Memorial Monument, built in 2009, for the laying of wreaths. The Defence Force ensign was flown at half-mast throughout the day.
On May 10, 1980, after arresting two Cuban fishing vessels near the Ragged Island chain, Able Seaman Fenrick Sturrup, 21, Marine Seaman Austin Rudolph Smith, 21, Marine Seaman David Allison Tucker, 21, and Marine Seaman Edward Arnold Williams, 23, were killed when Cuban jets fired on and sank HMBS Flamingo. Observers recognise the tragic event as not only a defining moment in the history of the embryonic Defence Force, but also for the relatively newly independent Bahamas.
The Foreign Ministers of the CARICOM region in their annual meeting in Kingstown, St Vincent and the Grenadines, marked the anniversary, with Foreign Minister Fred Mitchell recalling the day and thanking the government of Jamaica for the role it played in settling the matter with Cuba. Mr. Mitchell said the incident, which saw the tragic loss of the life of four young marines in a force only six weeks old, showed the necessity for diplomacy and the work of foreign ministries and recalled Cuba President Raul Castro’s apology for the incident.