Paul H. Williams, Gleaner Writer
DISCOVERY BAY, St Ann:
THE BADGE of Honour for Meritorious Service is not one of our top national honours and awards, but deputy director general of Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority (JCAA), Patrick Stern, his family, friends and relatives were elated when they learned he was going to be a recipient of such. So they threw him not one, but two parties.
The first party was held at Ultimate Jerk Centre in Discovery Bay, St Ann, last Saturday night. And The Gleaner was there to witness the happy occasion for the man who was awarded on National Heroes Day for giving 40 years of his life to the navigational services. It was a two-in-one affair as Stern had recently celebrated his birthday.
The soirée manifested itself in a simple setting at this popular north-coast eatery embellished by an outpouring of love from those who had travelled across seas, valleys and mountains to celebrate with Stern. The highlight of the evening was the cutting of the airplane-shaped cake by Stern and his family. Keith Rowe, a stand-up comic in his own right, was the master of ceremonies.
After the formalities, the dance floor was embraced by the old and young with Stern dropping legs as a boy of 16 would. But a boy of 16 has absolutely nothing over Stern as it relates to his sterling contribution to his country.
Over the years, Stern has held many positions in the navigational services starting out as an air traffic controller (aerodrome approach) at Norman Manley International Airport control tower, then at Sangster International Airport, and again at Norman Manley. He was subsequently promoted to area controller and worked in the Kingston area control centre, which was then located at Norman Manley.
Passionate for profession
Other promotions include watch supervisor, senior air traffic controller at Norman Manley and Sangster international airports, manager air traffic services, and director of air navigation services. Now, he is deputy director general in charge of administration and services.
But what has kept Stern so long at the JCAA? "I developed a passionate love for the profession. I worked very hard to develop the air navigation services (air traffic services, aeronautical information services, aeronautical telecommunication services, aeronautical search and rescue services, etc), to what it is today." he said
His most important professional achievement to date was the establishment of the Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority, which was formed from the Civil Aviation Department as a result of "the ceaseless representation" made by the Jamaica Air Traffic Controllers Association, which he founded in 1978, and served as president for several years.
"I feel very honoured and privileged to have been nominated and invested with this award. I could not have achieved it without the involvement of so many others, including my wife and family, and I accept it also on their behalf," Stern told The Gleaner.
And they hosted a second party for him Monday night at a hotel in St Andrew.