In a somber gathering at the Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF) Base yesterday morning, four marines killed in action 40 years ago were remembered during a wreath laying ceremony in commemoration of the bombing and sinking of HMBS Flamingo on May 10, 1980.
The significance of the day soaked through like the rainstorms that ensued as it happened. In attendance were Minister of National Security Marvin Dames, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Security Marco Rolle, Captain Raymond King, acting commander, Defence Force and his senior command.
In keeping with the COVID-19 emergency orders, one representative from each of the four families were represented.
Lieutenant Commander Whitfield Neely, the lone current serving member, represented the surviving crew members. Wreaths were placed at the HMBS Flamingo Memorial Park Monument and also near the water’s edge in remembrance of all those who were part of the tragedy that rocked the nation.
On Saturday May 10, 1980 at approximately 5 p.m., HMBS Flamingo apprehended two Cuban fishing vessels for illegally fishing in Bahamian waters off Cay Santo Domingo in the southern Bahamas. Without provocation or warning, two Cuban MIG fighters bombed HMBS Flamingo, killing four marines and wounding several others.
The defense force craft eventually sunk in ocean waters 35 miles south of Ragged Island, and 15 out of the 19 crew members survived the ordeal by escaping to Ragged Island aboard one of the captured craft they had arrested.
Missing in action and presumed dead, were Able Seaman Fenrick Sturrup, and Marine Seamen Austin Smith, David Tucker and Edward Williams. Senior Commander Amos Rolle, Chief Petty Officer Oscar Miller, Petty Officer Leopold Kirby and Marine Seaman Wilfred Sands have since passed and will forever be remembered.
The RBDF remains steadfast in its unwavering commitment, sacrifice and service toward the development of The Bahamas.