Calgary Stampede & Spruce Meadows 2013

By: MCpl Michael Baker & MCpl Derek Murdoch

 

After the mass floods that took place in southern Alberta to which the Regiment provided relief on Operation LENTUS, Calgary Stampede Parade and Spruce Meadows seemed to be events that would be unattainable due to the devastating flood waters that swept the Calgary area just a week prior.  On the morning of the opening ceremony on 5 July 2013, soldiers of A Squadron (Sqn) Honour Guard quickly learned that Calgary would prevail and the streets that were once flooded with water had now been flooded with a sea of people bursting with overwhelming pride.


As A Sqn Honour Guard fell into position within the Calgary Parade, soldiers quickly realized that they were to be one of the main attractions.  Individuals came in what seemed to be a never ending streak to shake hands, thank soldiers, take pictures, and of course, see the tanks.  Even the Stay Puft mascot from Ghostbusters came out to visit the soldiers and the tanks allowing Cpl Brandon Campbell a photo opportunity he could not pass up.  With a few rotations of the turret and exciting pivot turns, the crowd lit up with excitement.  One poor kid, inches away, was just about blown away by the force of the exhaust as the tank rolled past him.


A Sqn Honour Guard then moved to Spruce Meadows after the conclusion of Stampede Parade, where it paraded one hundred soldiers and conducted the ceremonial feu-de-joie for Saturday and Sunday, 6-7 July 2013.  Saturday had the guard up early in the morning to welcome Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Thomas J. Lawson, to Spruce Meadows.  The CDS arrived and was welcomed by a good looking group of soldiers all led by Major Eric Angell, Officer Commanding A Sqn, and MWO Leigh Taylor, Acting Squadron Sergeant-Major.  Division Commanders were Lt Laurel Burchell, 3rd Troop Leader, and Lt Jamie Brittain, 4th Troop Leader.  As the CDS made his way through the ranks there was no doubt he was impressed with the turn-out because of the size of his grin.


After the inspection with the CDS, the guard was dismissed and it prepared to perform the feu-de-joie as part of the main show for the day in the international arena.  Senior officers and civilian VIPs attended the event so expectations were high to put on a good show, and that it did in true Strathcona fashion!  A Sqn Honour Guard impressed the CDS; Commander 3 Canadian Division, BGen Christian Juneau; Colonel-of-the-Regiment, MGen (Ret’d) Cameron Ross; Commanding Officer, LCol Paul Peyton; Regimental Sergeant-Major, CWO Antony Batty; and Regimental Second-in-Command, Maj Robert McKenzie.  The following day, the guard performed equally well for the Deputy Commander 3 Canadian Division, BGen Paul Bury


In conjunction with the Honour Guard, A Sqn also contributed a small contingent of soldiers to show off both the Leopard 2A4M and the ARV 3 as static displays with Headquarters Sqn.  Hundreds of people came over the course of the two days to show their support and gratitude and converse with the troops.  The tanks filled with people, mostly children, or fathers too embarrassed to ask if they could get inside the tank.  One little girl seemed overly excited to see inside the tank and to inform Tpr Jeremy Kozack about her red hat by repeatedly tapping his head and saying: “I’ve got a red hat, I’ve got a red hat,” as he was leaning into the commander’s hatch to explain the inner workings of the tank.


The City of Calgary was able to recover quickly from the devastating floods and came out in full force to show its pride, support, and gratitude for the military.  The city, struck with great adversity, adapted and overcame inconceivable obstacles to continue in traditions long held showing that above all, much like the soldiers and motto of the Regiment, “Perseverance” always gets us through the day.


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A few short amateur video clips of the Strathcona Guard of Honour during the 2013 Spruce Meadows North American Tournament. 

 

Guard of Honour marching onto the grounds 

 Feu de joie

Feu de joie ending 

SMT joining the Guard of Honour 

March Past of the Guard of Honour and SMT 

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