‘T&T owes him a debt of gratitude’
Joseph Theodore was among the first nationals of Trinidad and Tobago to have attended the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, England, as an officer cadet from the Jamaica-based West India Regiment (WIR).
Theodore had joined the WIR during the 1958-1961 West Indies Federation that collapsed in 1961, following which Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago gained Independence in 1962.
Theodore and Trinidad-born Ken Barnes attended and graduated from Sandhurst when the officers and men from the disbanded WIR were offered options to join the Jamaica Regiment or the Trinidad and Tobago Regiment (TTR). Theodore and Barnes served in Jamaica from 1962 as lieutenants, but Theodore returned to Trinidad in 1964 and joined the TTR as a captain.
He served as a company commander, among other appointments, rising to the rank of major in the aftermath of the events of 1970. He was made commanding officer (CO) TTR in the rank of lieutenant-colonel in 1978, a position he held until 1988.
Theodore was promoted to colonel and chief of defence staff (CDS) in 1988. He held that position until February 1991, when, shortly before retiring from active service, he was promoted to the rank of brigadier. He was overall commander of the armed forces during the attempted coup of 1990. He led from the front during that stand-off, personally conducting negotiations with the Muslimeen, having them surrender after five days.
The retired Brigadier was selected by Basdeo Panday in 1995 to serve as Minister of National Security, an office held until he resigned in 2000.
Theodore, who attended St Mary’s College and was active in the Cadet Force during his student days, was also a marksman who represented the Regiment and country at international rifle meets. Only last July, on the occasion of the Regiment’s 50th anniversary, he participated in a pistol shoot for retired officers.
In 2002, he was among five senior and retired officers who were awarded the General Service Medal by then president Arthur NR Robinson.