While the Mendez family has laid Corporal Yassir Mendez to rest today, the family of Corporal Reynaldo Choco is preparing for his funeral tomorrow. Yesterday one family member expressed dissatisfaction at how the Belize Defence Force has handled the situation, particularly the notification of his ordeal. Love News understands that the family learnt of the situation via social media. Corporal Choco’s brother, Orlando Choco, spoke to our Toledo Correspondent, Paul Mahung, about the family’s grievances.
Orlando Choco, Brother of Cpl Reynaldo Choco: “First of all the family is really disappointed with the authority. We understand that the helicopter went missing from early Thursday morning and no one informed the family that our loved one was missing despite my brother’s wife living just a stone’s throw away from the air wing base. Had they informed us that they were missing we would have assisted in the search and rescue. When we saw the post on Facebook on Friday around 10 am then we started to ask questions. We contacted his wife who went to the air wing base because no one informed her that her husband was missing and up until midday Friday then she was informed that he was indeed missing. The family feels that a lot of decisions from the high authority went wrong and the family wants to know the truth as soon as possible since we are not hearing anything from authorities. The family feels disrespected by the relevant authorities. Our brother deserves a full military funeral and we are grateful that the Belize Defense Force is offering that service. We are also disappointed that in the press conference held on Friday my brother Reynaldo Choco was referred to as a private when in fact he is a full rank Corporal in the Belize Defense Force Air Wing.”
In an interview with Admiral John Borland, the Chief of Defence Staff in the Ministry of National Security, he spoke on the protocol of notifying family members and issued an apology to the family.
Admiral John Borland, Chief of Defense Staff: The BDF or any other organization who loses men on their watch, men or women on their watch, it is certainly obligated and has a duty of care, a duty to inform the families of the deceased. They have a system where they inform what they call the next of kin. The person who is listed in your record as the next of kin is the first person they will notify of the incident or of the fatality. To be honest I am not in the BDF, I left the BDF a long time ago I am not familiar who would be the next of kin of any of these men. I know if they are married then usually your wife is your next of kin, if you’re not then the next person would be your mother but it is up to the individual to list whoever he wants to be his next of kin and that is the person that the BDF would notify. It is an unfortunate circumstance, I can only apologize on my behalf. I would like to apologize on behalf of the BDF but they have to do that themselves. I personally knew Major Baezar he was a good man, close to me and so I don’t want to get any more into that.”
A wake will be held for Corporal Choco at the family’s home tonight in Big Falls, Toledo District. The funeral will be held tomorrow at Big Falls Roman Catholic Church starting at 10 am.