11 November 2010

I Remember

It's been over 24 years since I shaved my head and traded my civies for a uniform...

On March 22, 1986, I began my service with the 14th Service Battalion, or 14 SVC BN, in the Canadian Forces. I was in the militia, the part time army, weekend warriors. Even though I was in the reserves, many of my assignments were long term and not just on weekends - I spent several months in Saskatchewan.

In a service battalion, you are a support person - I trained as an Mobile Support Equipment Operator or MSE Op, that was my trade in the army, my designation, my job - I was a driver, if it had a steering wheel, I drove it.

As a driver in the military, you wait along with other drivers in the motor pool, you wait for an assignment. Waiting, and waiting, sometimes a day or two - very much like a fireman waiting in the station for a fire.

Assignments can be anything that involved you driving a vehicle... Sometimes an assignment would last several days, mostly they were for a few hours.

The best part of this particular trade was requesting vehicles for 'practice' and going out into the back woods of the bases to four wheel drive. Hey, there were guys back at the base that were trained to fi
x the vehicles, so we might as well keep them busy too, right? We managed to get air time on nearly every vehicle we touched.

I was fortunate that in the three years I wore a uniform, I never had to 'see any action', all of my assignments were fairly local. I have a huge amount of respect for any soldier that has to leave his/her home and put their life on the line to do their job.

Back in the 80's, soldiers weren't held in high regard, there certainly wasn't the love and respect today's soldiers are given. At the time, there was no immediate war, other than the cold war so Canada's involvement was that of a peacekeeping one in various hot spots around the globe. I was cool with that, I thought of myself as a peacekeeper more than a soldier.

Today, Canada's roll is more involved and more dangerous. And, for the average Canadian, they don't think about this often, unless it affects them personally. I know many people still serving in the armed forces and I am proud to know them and think about what they do often. In fact, my favourite part of my short time in the military was the people. In the army, the people you work with are more than co-workers, they are friends, good friends that you can count on for anything. That I will never forget.

If you know a Canadian soldier, past or present, let them know about http://booksforsoldiers.ca - it's a small thank you for all they do.

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