The Lord saw you getting tired
and a cure was not to be
so He put His arms around you
and whispered “come with me”
With tearful eyes
we watched you suffer
and saw you fade away
although we loved you dearly
we could not make you stay.
August 2, 2023, Major Roland Gaston DaSilva C.C.V., 86, of Georgetown,
Guyana, passed away peacefully at home with his beloved wife of 46 years,
Jennifer DaSilva (Rodrigues) in their home in Margate, FL.
Roland was diagnosed with ALS in November of 2022 and fought bravely against
the odds for 9 months. His wife, Jenny never left his side and cared for him in their
home. She was the truest example of an angel here on earth.
He is survived by his wife - Jenny, his two brothers – Peter and David, his three
daughters - Lisa Blick, Paula Forsyth, Tina Herald and his son - Roland DaSilva
Jr., as well as his grandchildren - Sasha, Colby, Skylar, Dakotah and Zoey and his 5
Weeks before his passing, Roland’s most recent accomplishment - which he was
blessed to be here to receive the news in person - was an official letter from the
President of Guyana commissioning a commemorative stamp as a tribute to his
exceptional valor in a mission in defense of their Country’s territory. His daughter,
Tina designed the artwork for the stamps.
Roland DaSilva was born on November 27, 1936 the firstborn of four sons to
Gaston DaSilva who was a first-generation Guyanese of Portuguese descent, and
Angelina Mekdeci who was born in New York, USA, of Lebanese parents, who
moved to British Guiana via New York and Cayenne, French Guiana.
Roland’s father Gaston managed the Polar Bear rum shop at the corner of Regent
and Light Street, inherited from his parents. Roland was the eldest of four sons that
included Michael (deceased), David a physiotherapist in Vancouver, Canada and
Peter in Naples, Florida who is a captain for USAir.
Roland attended St. Mary’s Roman Catholic School on the corner of Brickdam and
Camp Streets, opposite the Cathedral of Immaculate Conception (Brickdam
Cathedral), and then on to Central High School on Smythe Street. Roland excelled
at cycle racing and became the Georgetown High School Champion, eventually
moving on to motor racing.
First Flight Roland showed keen interest in flying at an early age often spending much of his
time reading about airplanes and building models that he flew at the sea wall.
When Roland was 18 his dad decided to buy a four-seater Auster Mk 5 British
Built aircraft; registration VP-GAM, from Booker Sugar Estate and they engaged
the services of John Rix as the instructor; Roland’s first flight was on December
30, 1954. After seven hours Roland performed his first solo flight accompanied by British
Guiana Airways Captain Julian Pieniazek (Czechoslovakian). His final check ride
was with Alec Phillips the then Director of Civil Aviation (DCA) and he was
issued his pilot’s license; PPL #14, on March 21, 1955.
Roland’s father then sent him to Britain’s Air University in Hamble, Southampton
where he obtained his commercial and instrument rating license; CPL #26, issued
Cacique Crown of Valor award For his faultless planning and execution of Operation Climax, Roland was
informed by letter from President Arthur Chung dated May 22, 1970 about his
investiture with the Cacique’s Crown of Valor to be awarded on May 26, 1970, the
fourth anniversary of Guyana’s independence.
The inaugural investiture of Captain Roland DaSilva by Guyana’s first President
Mr. Arthur Chung, with the Cacique’s Crown of Valor was held on February 23,
1971, the first anniversary of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana. The inaugural
investiture was held at Guyana House Georgetown, Guyana.
Roland DaSilva became the first and only Guyanese to have received Guyana’s
highest award the “Cacique’s Crown of Valour” for bravery of the highest order in
defense of Guyana in circumstances of great danger involving serious risk of life.
The award was bestowed upon Captain Roland DaSilva Guyana Airways
Corporation Operations Manager and Chief Pilot for the military mission flown during the Rupununi uprising in January 1969 and the retaking of Guyanese
territory from Suriname at Camp Jaguar, New River Triangle in August 19, 1969.
The Golden Arrow of Courage was awarded to Captain Michael Eugene Chan-A-
Sue, Captain Philip Desmond Jardim and Corporal Looknaut Singh of the Aurora
Police Station for bravery of a high order in defence of Guyana.
Roland’s last flight flying the Mallard for Chalks was December 1999 to a surprise
tumultuous water canon salute. On his final flight into Fort Lauderdale
International Roland noticed that the fire trucks were sitting at the end of the
runway and wondered if there was an accident or if they were waiting for an
expected emergency. As he approached the taxiway the 2 fire trucks were
positioned on either side of the taxi way and water cannons opened up; streams of
water soared into the sky, bringing to close an illustrious career of a true Guyanese
and international hero.
Roland’s flying career was from 1953-2006, a total of 49 years with 36,151 flying
Roland had a number of firsts:
First Guyanese to join British Guiana Airways as a pilot
First Guyanese to hold a commercial license
First Guyanese to qualify as a captain on a DC3
First Guyanese along with Tony Man-Son-Hing on the Twin Otter
First and only Guyanese to be awarded The Cacique Crown of Valour
Roland was qualified captain of all Guyana Airways aircrafts and 2 Guyana
Defense Force aircrafts during his tenure: Grumman Goose, DC3, DHC4 Caribou,
DHC6 Twin Otter, HS-748, Beechcraft Super King Air, Cessna 310, All Guyana
Defense Force aircraft, including BN Islanders and the Helio Courier
Roland credits his near perfect record to
“I always plan to ensure I have a way out of any situation.”
To quote Roland,
“Fear only exists when you have an alternative.”
Roland is considered a pioneer aviator. His exploits in the field of aviation are
well-known, respected and legendary. His name is forever etched in the
history of Guyana’s defense of its territorial integrity. His legacy will live on.