By Petty Officer Monique Deveaux
Patson Neely is navigating his course as a reservist through the COVID-19 Pandemic at the Northern Command Office of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force in Grand Bahama. As a trained commercial pilot, he understands how to navigate at high and low altitudes, and he also knows the importance of trusting in his instruments, visual aids, the air traffic controller tower and his own intuition to keep him on track to safely reach his final destination. Like any ride or journey, one requires a plan, or in the case of piloting, a flight plan. Some plans must be altered as a result of turbulence. Although the current pandemic has rerouted his career as a commercial pilot, it has also given him an opportunity to focus on his career as a RBDF Reservist.
Neely recalled that although he was always interested in enlisting in the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, he did not meet the age requirement criteria. Nevertheless, fate and destiny stepped in when the organization sent out a clarion call for applicants in its reservist unit.
“I thought this was a perfect opportunity to travel the islands. As a pilot, I knew that the Air Wing Department performed reconnaissance flights, and my skills as a pilot would be a good fit for the organization. This was my selling story, as I would now be able to enjoy both careers while serving my country.”
The benefits of being a reserve have many advantages. As a reservist, an individual is presented the opportunity to understand military life, and the important role it plays in the life of a nation. It gives one a greater appreciation for what service men and women do each day. Another positive aspect is the satisfaction of living a disciplined life. As a member of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, one becomes more task orientated.
“I find working with a diverse group of individuals beneficial, unlike in the civilian world, where a person is locked in with a particular group throughout their career. Also, I have received an appreciation for the multiple generations working within the force regardless of their age differences. Lastly, the physical aspect of the job is definitely beneficial to the individual, as it enables him or her to perform their duties.”
Neely says that military style of living has enriched his life. Being a naturally disciplined person, adapting was easy for him, despite an intense training. “The most challenging part for me, was the physical and mental aspect of the training. Having to perform fatigues and study at the same time was mind blowing, nevertheless, a humbling experience. My training has helped me in my civilian job. I find it easier to deal with my customers, because now, I learn to listen to their concerns. Because of this, I do have an appreciation for customer service.”
The way forward for the force in the next eight to ten years, Neely expressed: “The Defence Force needs to be more integrated in the community in terms of conducting community relations. As a reservist, we are the eyes and ears of the force within our communities, a place where people live, interact, and communicate. There are people who can assist the force in guarding its heritage. The local communities can be an asset for the force as they continue to meet the demands of working in an ever-changing maritime domain. I also see the roles of females expanding within the force, and most of all, I see a force that taps into the minds of its youth. A force that cultivates strong marines and officers through its Rangers Program would make an indelible contribution to the force and country.”