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Hero’s salute for returning soldier

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Home, sweet home: Private Ndavyah Williams is pushed through a Royal Bermuda Regiment guard of honour by Private Kirk Wilks Jr after his flight touched down on Saturday (Photograph supplied)

A soldier who suffered serious injuries after he was hit by a car at a Covid-19 lockdown checkpoint returned home over the weekend to a hero’s welcome.Private Ndavyah Williams exited the airport on Saturday to find soldiers from his A Company of the Royal Bermuda Regiment lined up at attention on both sides of the road.Private Williams, 26, said: “I didn’t expect anything this big — it’s very, very heart-warming. I’m lost for words.”The soldier, injured at a checkpoint in Devonshire on June 29, has had months of surgery and treatment at a Boston hospital, and arrived back home in a wheelchair because of leg injuries.Private Williams said: “I’m so happy to be home, so happy. It’s a different life — just to be back and out of the hospital and that environment. It’s good to be here with all the people who love you.”Close to 40 uniformed soldiers, from A Company and his 1 Platoon, cheered as Private Williams was pushed along by Private Kirk Wilks Jr, who suffered a broken leg in the same incident and recovered from his injuries at home.Private Wilks said: “I’m all clear now — I’m walking. It’s good to see him back. I haven’t seen him since that night. I’m happy he’s here.”Other soldiers out of uniform watched and applauded as the RBR’s wounded warrior arrived back home.RBR Commanding Officer Lieutenant-Colonel Ben Beasley, Colonel David Gibbons, the Honorary Colonel of the RBR, predecessor Colonel Eugene Raynor and Major William Madeiros, the chairman of the Defence Board, also attended the welcoming ceremony.Private Williams’s mother, Linnell Williams, a police officer serving with the new Bermuda Coastguard, said: “We’re so glad to have him home. It’s been a lot to deal with.“He’s very lucky to be alive. According to the doctors, it’s a miracle he’s still with us.”Sergeant Major Chauncey Durham, the Company Sergeant Major, said: “The turnout was very indicative of the respect and affection for Private Williams and Private Wilks. It proved an emotional event for all.“We’re glad to see him back and can’t wait for him to return to duty.”Major Preston Gill, the Officer Commanding A Company, added he and Sergeant Major Durham helped handle the aftermath of the incident.Major Gill said: “The whole Covid-19 response company was basically in tears. It’s nothing short of miraculous that Private Williams made it to hospital in the US.“It’s a huge relief for the soldiers to see the slow, but steady progress he has made since then.”He added: “Private Wilks is doing quite well and to see him push Private Williams out of the airport was great. The troops had tears in their eyes; it was so moving.”Major Gill thanked airport, Customs and immigration staff, as well as JetBlue airline, for their help in making the arrival of Private Williams, who will now be quarantined, as smooth as possible.He added: “We saw the best of Bermuda today and what it means to be in the regiment.“Whether people do three years and two months or make it a career, it’s something special. It’s family.“These two soldiers we honoured served their country and put themselves in danger to protect it.“Incidents of this seriousness are thankfully very rare, but our soldiers know the risk is always there and still come forward to do their duty. “It’s something the entire country should be proud of.”

Private Kirk Wilks Jr and his mother, Rita Wilks (Photograph supplied)
Kahreem Williams, Private Williams’s brother, left, with his aunt, Lindell Foster, brother Pelealkhai Williams and mother Linnell Williams, welcome the wounded warrior home (Photograph supplied)