Voluntary Korps of St. Maarten (VKS) turns 16

POSTED: 07/2/13 12:45 PM

St. Maarten – Ranks of the Voluntary Korps of St. Maarten (VKS) paraded through the streets of Philipsburg for the organization’s 16th anniversary, over the weekend. It was a bitter sweet exercise as officers are still mourning the loss of long serving colleague Corporal Welton Baker who died last week.

Acting commander, Captain Paul Martens has been at the helm of the organization ever since its founding member Lt. Colonel Jean Illidge retired in March of this year. Martens led the charge in a simple ceremony in front of Clem Labega Square remarking that the VKS has a long and illustrious history of serving the St. Maarten community.

Last Saturday, ranks were joined by the Royal Anguilla Police Force in smartly clad uniforms, swiftly moving through the streets.  The parade attracted its usual grouping of curious onlookers who lined the streets to see the company of distinguished men and women. Under a cacophony of music from the military band accompanying ranks, the VKS ranks ended the parade in front of the Philipsburg Jubilee Library.

The VKS was formed on June 28, 1997 as a paramilitary organization and today boasts of its involvement in the police, prison, Coast Guard and EMS systems. The military parade was preceded by an awards and installation ceremony. While in front of the Government Administration Building, Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams, under whose cabinet the VKS falls, handed out the new lapels and military decorations signaling the promotion of several ranks within the korps hierarchy. The leader of government congratulated the organization on producing a cadre of disciplined, hardworking and selfless volunteers who continue to provide an invaluable service to government. Saturday’s military parade paved the way for a reception that was held later that evening.

“On this your 16thAnniversary allow me to congratulate those of you who have been promoted to a higher rank and those of you who have been recognized for exemplary service to the VKS over the years. Clearly the Voluntary Corps of St. Maarten continues to be an institution in evolution: continuously moving forward and adopting new tasks and also introducing new members into your ranks. Every year it is good to stand still for just a moment and recognize your service to this community as well as to contemplate as you move forward. So as we recognize promotions and service it is also a fact that as VKS officers you are acting as role models in the community of St. Maarten. Contributing to the VKS is contributing to the community of St. Maarten and as we look towards a settlement of a Marine Base later this year I look forward to seeing a broadening out of your tasks and supporting the community of St. Maarten and building this country block by block and step by step,” the prime minister said.

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