Fri | Sep 22, 2017

UPDATED: A major passion: From class joker to military model

Published:Monday | January 30, 2017 | 1:00 AMJody-Anne Lawrence
Major Basil Jarrett at the Jamaica Defence Force, Up Park Camp.
Major Basil Jarrett
Jarrett
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The boy from a small town in St Elizabeth made his way from being a rural class joker to major and living out his dream as civil/military cooperation and media officer for the Jamaica Defence Force - the Major Basil Jarrett story.

The eldest of seven children, Jarrett admits that he developed a competitive spirit.

"There was a lot of us, so there was always one, the cute one, the tall one, and I had to make a name. So I was highly competitive," he told Flair. Admittedly, he was not known for his wit. Instead, he was known for his troublemaking skills.

At the age of five, he went to Kingston and attended St Jude's Primary, and then there was his best childhood memory. He passed his Common Entrance Examination for Jamaica College (JC). This is not because he thinks that this is the best school, which he does. Instead, it was the fact that he had passed.

He smiled with his eyes as he recalled the moment his grandmother came to school and hugged him. It was indeed a great moment, and he was now an example for others in his community and his siblings. Understanding and appreciating the value of education, he started the first day of high school with great pride.

Jarrett stepped on to the Hope Road institution with a strong sense of accomplishment. However, the feeling of greatness soon dwindled as he was brought down to earth when he was was initiated into the JC system. Looking back, it is one of his fondest and funniest memories. The fifth-formers would jeer the first-formers, split the class in three and have them sing the latest song.

"If we sang well enough they would leave us alone. If not, we had to keep singing. They flickered the light and said we had to blow out the bulb with our singing. At the time we even believed that our singing was flickering the lights. Six-formers came and got rid of the guys, and we thought that we were saved until they split the class again and told us to sing." Jarrett laughed heartily as he recalled the incident.

His years at JC were among his best. His first military experience was when he joined the cadet, but he had too many interests to focus on one. So after joining the cadet in the first form, by the third form he was playing basketball and football and being the class joker. He remembered that even in his yearbook one friend signed, "Thanks Juba (his high school nickname) for the many laughs."

He confessed that he tried to fail his exams in hopes of repeating. He was just not ready to leave. His last day was a sad one, but then it was time for university. With it came girls and parties, and leaving high school was not so bad after all. He started the University of the West Indies pursuing a degree in European History. Then he met and was very impressed with Ian Andrews, a sports broadcaster and a JC old boy.

 

CAREER PATH

 

He decided that that was what he wanted to do, and so he changed his specialisation and the rest was history. He then went on to working in advertising as a copywriter. He then went on to the Long Island University and Barucj College, and completed two master's degrees - one in marketing and the other in corporate communications. He returned to Jamaica and taught at the Northern Caribbean University and the University of Technology before deciding to do his PhD in London. But he was soon bored and left without completing it because his passion for his first love returned.

"I believe that you start somewhere and you might do many things but you always come back to who you were destined to be. I am privileged to be back where I belong," he told Flair.

He entered the military as a captain because of his training in a media and communication. Thus, when he took on the role of civil/military cooperation and media officer he had to be trained to be a soldier. It was exciting because Jarrett got a new perspective on the military.

"I grew a new appreciation for the work that we have to do and the relationship. You could not work with a more team-oriented set of individuals who genuinely look out for each other," Jarrett admitted.

When it came to his first assignment, he did start to wonder what exactly had he got himself into. He and other soldiers were doing a routine patrol through a particular community. They came upon some young men who were sitting on a wall and fled as they approached.

"I came in as a major and the lower-ranked soldiers were looking to me for instructions, not knowing that this was my first patrol. They went in pursuit of the men and I was wondering what I was doing," he told Flair.

 

SOFTER SIDE

 

 He hopes to work to build a better understanding of the military for civilians. Jarrett is proud of his growth. While he admittedly has devoted much of his time to the service, he has maintained a healthy personal life.

While he has a lot on his plate, the Major still plays basketball every Friday with his colleagues and is a devoted Walking Dead fan.

Jarrett would leave one advice to youth: "As President of the JC Old Boys' Association, I would life to encourage them to take chances, do not put any constraint on your like. If I did that I would not be where I am now."

jody-anne.lawrence@gleanerjm.com

Note: An earlier version of this story had said Jarrett entered the JDF as a Major. That was incorrect. In fact, he entered as a captain. Also, he  completed one of two masters degrees at Long Island University and the other at Barucj College. The original story has said he received both at the university.