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    BDF sergeant shares years of experience, marvels at joint capabilities

    BDF sergeant shares years of experience, marvels at joint capabilities

    Photo By 1st Lt. Kali Gradishar | Belize Defence Force Sgt. Gerald Bainton, BDF Light Engineer Company engineer, assists...... read more read more



    Story by Tech. Sgt. Kali Gradishar 

    12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern)

    BELIZE CITY - With less than a handful of years left until his retirement, Belize Defence Force Sgt. Gerald Bainton, Light Engineer Company engineer, is sharing his 19 years of experience with younger BDF soldiers, as well as U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army and U.S. Marine engineers supporting New Horizons Belize 2014.

    New Horizons is an annual training exercise that provides BDF, Canadian and U.S. service members the opportunity to train together in the fields of health care and civil engineering. The multi-national engineering team is constructing facilities at four schools and one medical facility in the country.

    Bainton plans on retiring in 2017, but he is using the New Horizons mission and the next few years to pass on his technical and leadership knowledge to his the soldiers who will proceed him in the BDF. With 10 of his 19 years in service in the engineer company, he has a lot to share.

    "In the ways of leadership, we try to groom other soldiers, the young leaders, to become like us," Bainton said. "It's important for us to lead by example.

    "It's a challenging experience," he said. "What I notice a lot of is the professionalism. I see guys pushing the limits and not complaining. ... I tell them all that we've got to develop stronger minds."

    Years ago, Bainton was on the receiving end of that knowledge sharing as he developed his own ways of leadership from his predecessors. He said he never would have guessed he'd stay in so many years.

    "I joined the military for the experience, and I wanted to give something back to my country," the sergeant said. "I didn't expect to be in so long, but I love it."

    When he wasn't in the engineer company, Bainton spent his time with the infantry doing border patrols and link-up patrols to build relationships with Guatemalan forces.

    "Truly, overall, I have had a blast in the BDF," he added. "There are obstacles in life you face, but I have overcome them, and I've enjoyed every step of the way."

    One of those obstacles includes being away from family for a long period of time.

    "I have a big family: a wife and six kids. I'm also a granddad," Bainton said. "At times it gets stressful for my family, maybe after a long time of not seeing me. But when the boss says you have to go somewhere, you have to do it."

    Being away from home is one of the many points that connect the BDF sergeant and his fellow soldiers with the U.S. military engineers. Many of them are familiar with being away from family due to the needs of the military.

    Bainton listens to the stories of the U.S. civil engineers and considers the differences of their military experiences.

    "Many of them are younger, but a lot of them have been on the front lines of war," Bainton considered. "I've learned a lot about these people's lives, and I believe they serve their country well.

    "At the end of the day, you have to remember the ultimate goal: to help the country," he said.

    In 19 years, Bainton has also done well over the years, contributing what time and effort he could to bettering himself and his soldiers.

    "In engineering, we get to learn a lot all of the time but especially during New Horizons," Bainton said. "I've been doing projects like these since 1999."

    While New Horizons provides ample training opportunities, his favorite BDF experiences were those that struck his competitive chord.

    "I really enjoyed the shooting competitions, and the sports events are always fun," Bainton shared. "And up until a few years ago, I would compete with the younger guys. I'd tell them they couldn't beat me on the fitness test, and they couldn't."

    Now that his career is winding down, he is focusing less on competing with the younger soldiers and focusing more on passing along valuable leadership characteristics. He is also considering what he will do upon retirement.

    "It's been a nice journey, and I've had a lot of good experiences; but it will be time for a new chapter," said Bainton. "I'm going to take a trip -- just me and my wife. That's the first thing. Maybe after that, I'll go into the construction field. Whatever I do, I've got to keep going."

    He may not know exactly what life will bring after retirement, but he knows where he will reside.

    "I can't imagine living anywhere else. I don't want to be anywhere else," Bainton said. "This is my home -- sweet Belize."



    Date Taken: 05.13.2014
    Date Posted: 05.15.2014 11:02
    Story ID: 129873
    Location: BELIZE CITY, BZ

    Web Views: 152
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