“The Drum Major”

In keeping with the Commander Defence Force (Acting), Captain Tellis Bethel’s intent to highlight those individuals that make a positive impact in the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, as well as within our communities, this week’s focus zones in on a man that keeps the beat going for the Force. A man, that can get your feet tapping with a well-executed twirl of his baton and the engaging personality that he radiates as he performs.

Hailing from Matthew Town, Inagua and a graduate of Inagua All Age School, this man that I am referring to is the very unique, Petty Officer Matthew Rolle, who is affectionately known as “MC”. Petty Officer Rolle joined the Royal Bahamas Defence Force as a Marine Recruit in 1989. Today, he is a 28-year veteran of the Defence Force and belongs to the self-proclaimed ‘best’ entry of the organization, Entry 24!

After successfully completing training as a recruit, Petty Officer Rolle began his career as a radioman, and was one of the fortunate Marines to have sailed on every vessel in the entire fleet during those early years of his employment. The vessels he has worked on include HMBS Yellow Elder, HMBS Port Nelson, HMBS Montagu and HMBS Inagua, as well as the four vessels named in honor of the fallen marines of the tragic May 10th 1980 ‘Flamingo’ event, HMBS Fenrick Sturrup, Austin Smith, David Tucker and Edward Williams.

Petty Officer Rolle was also a member of the Defence Force’s Military Operations Platoon (now the Commando Squadron Department) where he participated in operation “Uphold Democracy” in Haiti, as a member of one of four Defence Force contingents during the period 1994-1996. He joined the illustrious Defence Force Band in 1995. Positions he has held since becoming a band member include Percussionist, bass drum, cymbals, trumpet, bass guitar, vocals and finally Drum Major. Petty Officer Rolle now serves as the Band Director of the best military band in the land.

Although “MC” Rolle has dedicated his life to protecting the country, he has also had the pleasure of representing his country in the sporting world. He has been a silver medalist in boxing at the Bahamas Games, a gold medalist at Carifta, Inagua’s super heavy weight and heavy weight boxing champion, a National shot put and discus gold and silver medalist and has even lifted up to 360 lbs. to become a power lifting champion within the Defence Force.

But wait, Petty Officer Rolle isn’t just brawns, he is quite intelligent. A published author, he written a book of poems entitled, “Voice of the Drum Major”. MC is also quite active as a member of the Church Of God of Prophecy East Shirley Street where he performs duties as a marriage counsellor, Sunday School Superintendent and a choir director under the leadership of his Pastor, Pastor Dale Moss. He also served as the Assistant Director of the famous Bahamas All Star Marching Band; he was the founding Director of Christ the King Marching Band, and is the former Drum Major of the Bahamas Youth Band.

In depth insights were garnered with Petty Officer Rolle during my interview with him. I asked him to explain to me his ardent affair with music. His reply was simple but powerful, “The expression on someone’s face when the band plays a particular piece, whether it is a marching band or concert band!” “When music is played, even for a brief moment,” he continued as if mesmerized, “a person can forget their sorrows, pain and just focus on the smooth sounds that permeate from the instruments. The individual will be distracted to dance, clap, smile and at times shed a tear of joy.”. “What instrument do you love the most?” I wanted to know. Without hesitation, he responds, “My voice”. His wife Mrs. Denise Roll, and son, Matthew Rolle II supports him so that his charisma shines through always. His passion for music radiates. His heart remains in the right place and for this we say, ‘BRAVO ZULU’ to you Petty Officer “MC” Rolle. Sing On.

Remember to stay tuned as this series continues to showcase several of the hardworking servicemen and servicewomen who are not only good Officers and Marines, but are excellent nation builders within their own right. If you know any other Officer or Marine in the Royal Bahamas Defence Force who engages your community in a positive way, feel free to leave a comment, a message or a nomination. Their story may be next!!

Story by: Able Seaman Huden Johnson

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