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First ever female paratrooper graduates

History was created in the Guyana Defence Force on Tuesday when 20884 Woman Private (W/PTE) Melika Scotland graduated as the first ever female paratrooper and proudly received her paratrooper’s wings.

At a simple, yet historically significant ceremony at the Headquarters of the 31 Special Forces Squadron at Base Camp Stephenson, Timehri, her male peers gave her a standing ovation for her bravery, the GDF said in a news release.
Woman Private Melika Scotland receiving her paratrooper’s wings from Captain Sheldon Howell (GDF photo)She was one of 36, including three Officers, who graduated from the first paratrooper’s course to be conducted by the Special Forces since 2002.

In addition to the 36 graduating paratroopers, sixteen 31SF Ranks also graduated from their Grade III SF Course, the first course of its kind to have been conducted entirely by the Unit.

PTE Celvar Narine won awards for being the Best Graduating Student and the Best Shot while the runner-up graduating student was PTE Narvin Mahadeo and the nod for Best Fitness went to PTE Oral Younge, the release stated.

In his address to the graduates, Chief of Staff Commodore Gary Best highly praised W/PTE Scotland and noted that it was a signal achievement for her to become the first female paratrooper in the Force.

Congratulating the other graduates for completing the rigorous and demanding training, the COS noted that Special Forces Officers and Ranks were a “special bunch of men and women”.

“We depend on you to perform the most dangerous tasks; tasks that only you can perform. You will always be among the first response teams, should our national security be threatened,” the COS was quoted as saying.

He advised that despite the training which they had received, they were to seek to understand what was transpiring in the wider society.

The SF graduates were reminded that although they were a Specialist Unit, they were not separate from the rest of the Force. They were also reminded to work within the chain of command, with the highest degree of professionalism while maintaining high levels of discipline.

Meanwhile, also receiving special letters of commendation and other rewards was the 31SF team that successfully recovered the remains of Aliya Bulkan who died tragically at the Kaieteur Falls a few weeks ago.

“Yours was a difficult and dangerous mission. You came close to losing one of your own, yet you were heroic and pulled it

off. . .,” the COS said.

The release explained that Special Forces training is designed to equip SF soldiers with skills and acumen at a higher level than the average soldier. This ten-week course has resulted in 70% of the SF Unit now being specialist-trained. The course was conducted in three phases – the specialist phase, the jungle phase and the paratrooping phase.