A Sqn on Exercise COLD STEELE
Day 1: On March 10th, 2014, soldiers of A Sqn deployed on Exercise COLD STEELE to historic Gregg’s Cabin near Hinton, Alberta. Shortly after camp set-up, everyone got the briefing on the routine and overall plan for what was going to happen during the week. Once dinner was served upon arrival, the party officially started. The first night set the standard for the rest of the week. There were two areas that we gathered: the bonfire outside the main cabin allowed soldiers to stand around the fire, have a couple of cold ones, and strap on their buckets and tell the new guys their war stories. The main cabin served as a warm place to sit, enjoy beverages of choice, play a bit of cards, and later on in the night served as a place to sleep for those whose tents proved too onerous to keep up.
Day 2: It was a day with many options to enjoy the outdoors. Everyone went ice fishing, travelled on the snowmobiles, or just hung out and continued to improve the campsite. Regardless of what excursion people chose, everyone had immense fun and morale was high. The only thing that people caught on the first day of ice fishing was bait, and in most cases, the bait didn’t even want to remain on the hooks. Even though the day resulted in duds for catching fish, it served as a relaxing day hanging out on the ice in the wilderness. Tuesday night was much like the night before, filled with troops relaxing by the fire and nothing but shenanigans.
Day 3: Wednesday had a little bit more to offer the troops of A Squadron. In the morning, we had the option to go ice fishing, get on a bus and head into Marmot Basin for a day of skiing and snowboarding, or once again make use of our snowmobiles on the extensive trail systems surrounding Gregg’s Cabin. A bus in the afternoon allowed soldiers to head into the town of Jasper to go out for supper and maybe find a place to shower, or just go out and enjoy what the small town had to offer. Remaining behind to complete Personnel Evaluation Reports and continue to develop “The Strathconian,” Squadron Second-in-Command, Captain John Kim, met up with the squadron in the Town of Jasper to enjoy a couple of beers us for the evening.
Day 4: Thursday was a day where most of the troops learned a few things they didn’t know. Survival experts from Karamat Wilderness taught the soldiers extensive survival skills. Topics ranged from which knives were best suited for different survival situations, how to use signal fires for rescue, how to make an emergency whistle, how to make emergency super shelters (from which Corporal Meaney said the willow clothes-pins were gangster), and different ways to start fires using primitive methods. Thursday night, A Sqn was rewarded with pizza that Master Warrant Officer Chenier went into Hinton to pick up. Some still nursing a hangover from the night before and brains full of knowledge gained from the Survival Masters’ lessons, most soldiers took an early night to rest for the next day.
Day 5: Early Friday morning, everyone woke up and started camp tear-down before embarking on the road move back to Edmonton. All in all, the week was a success for the members of A Sqn. With no cellular phone reception in the area where we camped, the week resulted in exhilarating winter training and a unique opportunity to bond, making squadron cohesion stronger than ever.