“A Time to be Brave”
By: Lt Ali Mansour, 1st Tp Ldr, B Sqn
As a parent, the hardest news to bear is any news about your child being hurt. In that moment you are willing to sacrifice anything to take the pain away and make it better. Recently, Ronan Smyth, a 12 year old native of Edmonton, was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. The doctors told Ronan’s parents that he did not have long to live. In that moment, and in the moments that have passed since his diagnosis, there was nothing that Ronan’s parents could do to take away the pain. Through the heartache and grief, however, Ronan’s parents have done everything they could to make his life the best they could hope for.
Earlier this month, Ronan’s family reached out to the Regiment to help fulfill one of his last requests: Ronan would like to ride in a tank. On the 1st of November 2018, members of B Squadron had the honour and privilege to help Ronan with that request. Accompanied by his friends and family, Ronan spent the entire afternoon at the Regiment. With the help of Officer Commanding B Squadron, Major James Anderson, Ronan was made an Honorary Trooper and began the first steps of his Tank Gunnery Qualification.
Throughout the day Ronan and his brother, Aidan, did what Tankers do best. They spent the afternoon developing their gunnery skills in the Sims. Ronan was a natural; first round hits every time, never missing a shot. Even when his brother and uncle, Tim Searle, tried to drive the targets sporadically away from his tank, Ronan destroyed them with ease. After qualifying on the Sims, Ronan mounted up with the crew of 21 and headed down the Runway at CFB Edmonton. To say that he was excited would be an understatement. Ronan got to command his very own tank and the soldiers from B Squadron had the unique opportunity to be part of his crew.
At the end of the day, having received his gunnery qualification, the Regimental Second in Command, Major Alfred Wong, and the Regimental Sergeant Major, Chief Warrant Officer Robert Clarke, presented Ronan with a plaque solidifying his status as an honorary Trooper in the Regiment. For Ronan, being around the soldiers of B Squadron was an awesome experience. For his mother, Sarahjane, it was an unforgettable moment seeing her son bond with his new family. Although Ronan learnt a lot from the members of B Squadron, the soldiers all agree that he showed them what brave looks like in the face of an uncertain future.