It was an emotionally gripping scene at the Myohaung Officers Mess Wilberforce Barracks Tuesday (30/9/08) when the outgoing Chief of Defense Staff (CDS) Major General Sam Mboma was accorded full military honours as he took his exit from the Military after a remarkable spell of over 40 years.
After a near tearful moment during which Major General Sam Mboma presented the staff of office to his successor, Brigadier Alfred Nelson Williams, the outgoing CDS assured the dignitaries present that he would do all that lies within his domain to lift the military to higher height in his new assignment as Deputy High Commissioner to Nigeria.
But the moment that nearly moved everyone to tears was when he climbed a Landover draped with the National colours, pulled along by strong ropes held by senior officers of the army and IMATT, with the airwaves filled with military music, he waved to the gathering as a bugler sounded the fanfare.
Preceding that heart moving scene was the exchange of the baton of office in which the former CDS extolled Brigadier Nelson-Williams saying, “I wish you the best of everything, I wish you long life, prosperity in everything you do, and every achievement you are making in life is through God’s grace.”
As he stepped forward to hand over the baton, the rain suddenly fell as if to signal the band and everyone present to sing “there shall be showers of blessing”.
He advised, “listen to colleagues and by doing so you will be a successful leader,” adding, “I have no doubt Alfred, we train together and the foundation has already been made, as we worked together in this army and God will continue to help you even though I would be in Nigeria where I am expecting to get wonderful results about you.”
Paying gratitude to the former CDS, the Minister of Defence, Rtd. Major Alfred Palo Conteh recalled some 32 years ago, when Maj. Gen. Mboma, Nelson Williams and a host of other retired officers assembled at Wilberforce to join the army.
He elaborated on his loyalty, good work and admonished officers saying, “you do not need to have political connection to become CDS, just be a professional soldier and you would be recognized.”
The Minister called on the new CDS to build on the successful achievement of his predecessor and expressed the hope “to see you as one of the best CDS this Army has seen”
Fitting tributes were also paid by the Director General of Defence, K.O. Bah who said, “considering your long walk and strides in the army it is not an exaggeration to say that you have ventured into many spheres within the army from private soldier to the apex-Chief of Defence Staff.”
To the new CDS he said, “I say welcome. This is your terrain. May God guide you.”
Also paying homage to the former CDS was the newly appointed Deputy Chief of Defence Staff, Brigadier Yirah Koroma, who later presented the departing CDS with a gift on behalf of the armed forces By Samuel John