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Tribute to Leslie Leroy Latchman

Tribute to Leslie Leroy Latchman

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Fri Apr 12, 2013

Delivered at the Arnos Vale Church of the Nazarene – April 7, 2013

Leslie Leroy Latchman, “Legs”, “Lima”, “Lima 3”, “Bravo” and “Class Leader”; I never knew why he was called “Legs”, but for “Lima”, “Lima 3”, “Bravo” and “Class Leader”, I have knowledge.

His Force number was number three; his initials were L L. In the phonetic alphabet, L is known as Lima, hence Lima, Lima 3. Bravo was bestowed upon him while he was conducting a training course at Diamond. During a Fire and Manoeuvre exercise, you will hear him, “Fighting Alpha will advance while fighting Bravo will give covering fire.” Somehow, Bravo stuck on him. In 1985, SOP Latchman headed a contingent of 31 police officers to attend an Advance SSU Course in Grenada. As a result of him holding the most senior rank, he was called the Class Leader. Amongst the officers who attended that course, he was known as Class Leader from then on.{{more}}

February 28, 1982, I was amongst some 15 policemen who were transferred to the Special Services Unit (SSU). I was the most junior member of the batch. The unit was then under the command of the late Superintendent Grafton Bascombe. Superintendent Latchman was second in charge.

From the moment I was transferred to SSU, SOP Latchman took a liking to me, because I was, as we will say in colloquial terms, “I was fronted”. Being the most junior member of the Unit, I was often seen as the water carrier or the busboy. I was not going to settle for this, so I secretly began to compete with SOP Latchman and we hit it off from the get go. As a young Constable, I was very shy, but thanks to SOP Latchman, I overcame my shyness.

While stationed at SSU Base, Old Montrose Police Station, persons on day off, while waiting for their leave passes to proceed on rest day leave, were usually asked by SOP Latchman to fall in the Lecture Hall. (Boy were we mad)? As he entered the lecture room he will bellow, “Crocus, give a lecture on AIDS.” Without a doubt, I was expected to give a proper presentation. Another time it would be, “Marcos (referring to DCP Hadaway) give a lecture on Patrol Harbours.” At the time we had no idea what he was preparing us for, but after standing in front of colleagues over and over delivering lectures, my shyness disappeared.

I didn’t know what SOP Latchman saw in me, but while at SSU, he ensured that I attended every Regional Security System (RSS) Course and I mean every. I was the first local RSS instructor. Though I was a Constable in the local Police Force, I attained the rank of Sergeant Major while with the RSS.

One of my most memorable moments was during Exercise Trade Winds 1990, held in Puerto Rico. I was conducting the Shooting Range exercise and I had the opportunity to instruct SOP Latchman during his shooting session. (Boy, did I let him know who was in charge).

I was the Commanding Officer for the 2007 Independence Parade. When I got home after the parade, I received a call from SOP Latchman congratulating me, and as you can imagine, he pointed out all the mistakes I made and gave me pointers for the next parade.

Even while he was sick at home, he still had a sense of humour and was still sharp as ever. Once, a group, including Deputy COP Hadaway and I, visited SOP Latchman. He gave us the story of how nutmeg helped him to regain his speech after he had suffered a stroke. He said, “Crocus, could you imagine a man who people used to call ‘Parrot’ can’t talk?”

During the planning stages for Operation Vincy Pac in 2009, Brigadier Dillon, Commanding Officer of the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force, who had attended several training Courses with SOP Latchman, came to SVG. He indicated that he would like to visit Class Leader. Commissioner of Police Mr Keith Miller and I agreed to take him. I called SOP Latchman and informed him of Dillon’s visit. I said to him over the phone, “Class Leader you will have to act surprised, you know?” He said, “Crocus, no problem.” When we got to SOP Latchman’s residence, as Brigadier Dillon entered the room, he asked, “Latchie, what’s up?”

Class Leader sat up on his bed and stared at Dillon for about two seconds then shouted, “My goodness, Southie, what you doing here?” They then embraced each other then reminisced on times they had shared together.

I know he was very proud of the achievement of his boys and gals, as he called us: DCP Hadaway, SOP Benjamin, Ex-SOP Horace Williams, ASP Jackson, ASP Hazel-Ann Jacobs, Inspector Allan John, Inspector Hazelwood, Ex S/Sgt Parris, Sgt Verden “GAO” James, S/Sgt Desmond (Gouti) Samuel and Sgt Jacobs.

This morning during a telephone conversation with DCP Hadaway, he asked me to extend condolences on behalf of himself and his family to the family of our Class Leader.

Accordingly, on behalf of myself and my family, I wish to offer sincere condolences to the family and friends of the late Leslie Leroy Latchman, Legs, Lima, Lima 3, Bravo, our Class Leader. He will forever remain in the hearts of his boys and gals. May his soul, rest in peace.

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