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Prisons chief at soldier’s funeral: Don’t let him die in vain

Published: 
Tuesday, July 8, 2014
Pallbearers with the casket of Kayode Thomas (inset) after his funeral service at the Church of Assumption, Long Circular Road, Maraval, yesterday. PHOTOS: SHIRLEY BAHADUR

Prisons Commissioner Conrad Barrow yesterday urged members of the protective services not to let the murder of fallen soldier Lance Cpl Kayode Adrian Thomas go in vain but to use his death to strengthen their resolve to deal head-on with the crime situation in T&T. He told mourners at Thomas’ funeral at the Church of the Assumption, Maraval, in his capacity as secretary of the National Security Officers Foundation: “The public has grown numb to officers losing their lives in the line of duty but this will not happen here. Our resolve has been strengthened. We have a job to do.” Barrow urged all officers to be “bold, brave and fearless” in defending the citizens of this country. “We will not disappoint,” he added.

 

He later described Thomas as the “epitome of selflessness,” stating he had made the ultimate sacrifice and greatest gift by surrendering his life for the nation. Thomas, 32, was killed on June 29 as he drove along Plaisance Quarry Road, John John, Laventille. Police recovered 30 spents shells at the scene. He was shot as he was going to his mother’s home at Beverly Hills, Laventille. The father of eight was accorded a military funeral which was attended by personnel from various arms of the protective services. Among them were officers from the Defence Force, Police Service, Fire Services, Coast Guard, Air Guard, Immigration, Customs and Excise, Prisons Service, Immigration Detention Centre, Traffic Wardens and Licensing Authority. President Anthony Carmona, along with National Security Minister Gary Griffith also attended the service, which lasted just over one hour. Also in attendance was Chief of Defence Staff Brigadier General Kenrick Maharaj, who joined Carmona and Griffith in the front pew.

Delivering the homily, Fr Matthew Ahye referred to the circumstances that led to Thomas’ death. He said Thomas, who had pledged his life to the military to serve the country and defend citizens, had been instead gunned down by the people he had vowed to fight against. Ahye acknowledged that Thomas’ relatives and friends would be left with questions concerning his passing. He urged the packed church to pray for guidance. “There are so many things that are wrong in society today and need to be put right at all levels of society,” he said. Reciting the St Francis of Assisi prayer, Ahye encouraged those present to say it everyday and to follow its tenets in daily life. During the eulogy, Lt Clyde Thompson recalled Thomas’ competitive spirit, leadership qualities and warm nature towards his colleagues. Revealing his exemplary services during the Summit of the Americas and the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, both of which were held in 2009, had earned Thomas special awards in the military. Thompson said the fallen hero was known as an honest, fearless, courageous and devoted soldier and father, constructive critic and an even better friend.

 

Thomas’s cousin, Teineisha Thomas, recalled several experiences throughout his childhood, saying his first loves included football and family. She admitted he found peace in football as she spoke of happy times with relatives and friends. Praising him for his love and care towards his eight children, Teineisha said: “You were the best daddy.” Just as the service ended and Thomas’ casket was being carried out of the church, his mother, Marva Thomas, complained of chest pains and was escorted to a first aid truck which had been parked on the front lawn of the church compound. As anxious relatives waited outside the truck, the body was placed on a gun carriage as Thomas’ children, accompanied by their respective mothers, congregated behind the carriage to follow the procession to the military cemetery at Long Circular, Port-of-Spain. Thomas’s mother later joined the procession, calling out “Kayo”, as he was fondly known, as the carriage moved off.