In late June, 1996, myself and a few other guys stepped off a Greyhound bus in Brandon, Manitoba to what would have been a fabulous morning any other time. This time, however, our thoughts weren’t on how there wasn’t a cloud in the sky or how nice the sunny morning breeze felt on our faces, but instead were on the surly and grizzled master corporal that had arrived at the bus depot to pick us up.
“Grab your shit and get it in the truck. Now.”
None of us were going to argue, the guy was scary looking. This was one of the men that was supposed to turn us from a bunch of weak kneed wimps into battle ready troops. A month ago, when I decided to sign up to join the army I just thought it would be cool to fire a machine gun, throw a grenade, or ride in a helicopter. Fun. Join the artillery, it’ll be great, the recruitment sergeant said.
Staring at Mcpl Canavan though, I started getting second thoughts and it turned out that long bus ride from Edmonton to Manitoba would be the last relaxing time we would have for the next couple of months. From Brandon, we made the short drive over to Canadian Forces Base Shilo where we met Warrant Skinner (who was as intimidating as the name implies by the way). His team of Sergeants and Master Corporals would take pleasure over the rest of the summer breaking us down and building us back up as they say.
I’d be lying if I said it was an easy summer, but it made me realize that being exposed to difficult situations can be tough at first, but over time you get used to it. The yelling, sleep deprivation, the dirt, the dust, all of that, became something that we all just coped with and eventually got through. Most of us were 18 or 19 years old and had led pretty sheltered lives, so basic training was an eye opening experience, at least for me. In fact, it just so happens it’s where I met my wife, Carla. Although it wouldn’t be for 9 years that we would actually start dating, I guess going to Shilo that year turned out to be an important decision!
As crappy as it was at times while we were there, I was proud of myself for getting through it and spent the next 7 years with 20th Field Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery. Over my time with the regiment I bonded with a group of the best people you could ever hope to meet, so when Carla chose The Homes for Heroes Foundation for this month’s funds to go to, I felt it was a great choice. Our veterans that serve domestically and overseas deserve a ton of support when they get back, especially if they suffer from any physical or mental ailments as a result of their service. If anybody wants any additional information on the support services that HFH provides for veterans, or on the villages that they are constructing to get members back on their feet please visit http://www.homesforheroesfoundation.ca.
Thank you for visiting the site and especially if you made a donation! I’ll have the updated donation totals for the end of the month. Happy running everybody!