Jamaican-born Captain Eric Bramwell retires after 36 years in the UN Department of Safety and Security – Carib Vibe Radio

Jamaican-born Captain Eric Bramwell retires after 36 years in the UN Department of Safety and Security

The visitor’s concourse of the United Nations Headquarters in Manhattan, last Thursday, was filled with well-wishers, colleagues, family, and friends, to celebrate the retirement of Captain Eric Bramwell, after he served 36 1/2 years in the Department of Safety and Security.

Surrounded by his wife Grace, and daughter Ericia, Bramwell told Caribbean Life during an interview at the UN that tears streamed down his face during a supervisors meeting that he had attended to discuss the security, and thought, “how many of us in this room envisioned being in New York at the United Nations discussing the security for delegates, head of states, and VIPs who would come onto the premises.”

“My journey started in Kingston, Jamaica in 1980, where I was associated with the preparatory committee of the International Seabed Authority, while serving in the special branch of the Constabulary Force. I was tasked with providing security for delegates attending forums at the international conference center, this is where I first encountered the UN security officers, who had come from New York,” said Captain Bramwell, who was age 24, 165 pounds and 6”1’ tall.

A detective corporal back then in the Special Branch, he said he was quite impressed with the elite officers, and later, when he was about to migrate to the United States, he told himself that the only place he would want to work was at the United Nations. Albeit, in September 1987, six months after arriving in New York, his ultimate dream became a reality when he walked through the gates of the UN and joined the Safety and Security Service.

Bramwell admitted that in the beginning, it was a bit boring, he however understood what his role was, and since he was exposed to the UN in Kingston as an impressionable young man who felt the security officers could move mountains.

He recalled his first encounter with a young man at the front gate entrance in New York, and immediately applauded his demeanor, and how he was immaculately dressed in uniform. “Till to this day I never said to him how much I had admired him,” Bramwell said of his colleague who was from Japan.

Climbing the ladder from a security officer, Captain Bramwell, who received on the job training, patrolling the perimeter of the complex, as well as weapons instruction, said the security service, has come a far way. New recruits, now receive classroom instruction and are required to be physically fit akin to law enforcement officers many who are trained in their homeland.

Bramwell was one of the first of 26 UN officers, in 1991, to be deployed to northern Iraq where he served for four months, after the first Gulf war. He went into a war zone not knowing what his role and functions were, however, he felt the team did a very good job after understanding what was expected of them.

He said even though it was high-risk being in the region, he was there to do a job, putting his military police experience to work. The captain was not worried about the danger and went on to support multiple mission assignments and conferences around the world.

Captain Bramwell, who attended Manchester High School in Mandeville, and trained in the National Youth Service Program in Jamaica, went on to an impressive career at the UN, serving from 1992 – 93 in the UN Transitional Authority in Cambodia. In 1994, he headed the UN Protection Force in the Former Yugoslavia, and from 2001-23, in the UN Transitional Authority in East Timor.

Included in his indelible, and impeccable journey, Captain Bramwell who is a well-loved, and engaging person, left a lasting, extraordinary imprint in the organization that many experienced, when he served at UN conferences, such as the COP, Habitat, Stockholm + 50, the International Conference for Financing and Development, and Security Council Missions, cementing his success at the UNHQ, in a total of 35 countries.

UN Chief of Security Michael Browne, next to Captain Eric Bramwell, delivered a glowing tribute to the retiree during a farewell party at the UN Headquarters in Manhattan on March 28. Photo by Tangerine Clarke

UN Chief of Security Michael Browne, a Limerick, Ireland native, in a glowing tribute, invited a round of applause for Captain Bramwell’s incredible and outstanding service. “Eric walked in the gates of the United Nations headquarters and joined triple S and after 36 and a 1/2 years of distinguished outstanding service here we stand tonight to honor him as he retires.”

He commended Captain Brumwell, for his exceptional liaison with Hans Blix, head of the UN Weapons Inspection Team, from 2003-2004, adding that the skilled captain, played a very important role from 2005 to 2006 where he served in the protective detail for deceased Secretary General Kofi Annan, who is still held in very high regard by all at the UN.

“Eric was the officer in charge of our special investigations’ unit when I was deputy chief. That is when we really started to work closely together and collaborate closely together. I really value his opinion, his collaborative way of doing things, his insight into the service and the steady hand that he will put on my shoulder and say go left go right as they used to say in the military.”

“You’re always right every time. I want to thank you,” said Chief Browne, adding, “we have a few of our friends who stayed here tonight we are delighted to welcome you all and thank you for joining us. I know it’s a mark of your respect,” he said about the jovial, and energetic Captain Bramwell, who was assigned as the LSO for the PGA 59th session, and from 2011 – 2020 served with the Special Investigations Unit OIC, and 2021, until retirement in the Special Services Unit (OIC).

“I’m delighted to have had the opportunity to have one last swan song in Dubai back in December, when we were there for the climate change conference. It was a very interesting moment because it was great to have that time with you,” he said to Captain Bramwell.

“I am very sad to see you go, as a colleague as a friend as a legend. I’m delighted that you will get more time to spend with your lovely family,” said Chief Browne.

“Enjoy the fruits of your labor because this is a very good organization and as you come closer to retirement you realize just how good the benefits are of having worked with the UN.”

“Eric, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for your service to this organization to the safety and security service, it’s been an honor and pleasure to work with you.”

Deputy Chief of Security, Kevin O’Hanlon, congratulated Captain Brumwell, whom he had encouraged to apply for the post left vacant by late Vincentian-born Captain Tony Husbands, a friend, and colleague who died from COVID in 2020.

The team of the UN Diplomatic Security Service presented a retirement plaque to Captain Eric Bramwell during a farewell party at the UN Headquarters in Manhattan on March 28, celebrating 36 1/2 years of service. Photo by Tangerine Clarke

A few retired and current security officers, also spoke of the cherished memories they had working with Captain Bramwell, who was presented with a plaque from the Diplomatic Security Service in the UN.

Captain Bramwell, a father to three children, whose retirement took effect, March 31, and who plans to tend to his vegetable and flower gardens, in Florida and Jamaica, spoke passionately about his loving wife, Grace, whom he said waited for him after he had joined the UN, traveling back and forth to Jamaica.

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