B Squadron on Exercise COLD STEELE
By Corporal Derek “Pulitzer Prize” Popoff
Through the dates of March 17th through 21st, Prince of Wales (B) Squadron deployed to Hinton, Alberta, for “Adventure Training” otherwise known as Ex COLD STEELE. Monday morning saw the Twitterverse explode - soldiers eager to share their enthusiasm with the world and each other crashed the social site with #BoysNightOut and Corporal Ayrton “No Goal” Balfour’s beauty, #Excited. The whirlwind of pre-deployment and last minute details filled the lines. With all the loose ends sorted out, the busses arrived and we were off to the mountains. The plan for the week was for the boys and girls of B Squadron to get out and enjoy the great outdoors on Jarvis Lake. With activities including ice fishing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, and good old winter survival classes, the troops had a lot of business to fill their time.
On the lake we had our master ice anglers Warrant Officer Christopher “Bob Izumi” Zubkowski and Sergeant Michael “Sleep Walker” Craig coach the boys on the technique and patience needed to ice fish. Time seemed to stand still on that lake while waiting for the initial sign of our slippery opponent. The first bite came just after lunch on the first day as Sergeant Craig pulled up a pike the size of a human leg! Seriously! With the smell of victory (and fish) in the air, the troops huddled around their ice holes eagerly awaiting the next big catch. Through the week, and one midnight session of braving the elements, we were able to swindle three fish from the unforgiving and sparse waters.
For some team building and an opportunity to soak in some of the scenery, snowshoeing was another one of the endeavours included. Simply a walk around the shores and woods of the lake was peaceful way to ensure the troops knew how to properly prepare for winter mobility. As always, it didn’t stay quiet for long as the next stand was snowmobiling.
Sergeant Ryan “Jon” Sebo and Warrant Officer Cari-Ann “Ponch” Barker took the lead on this one, instilling confidence and control for the boys while cruising the frozen span of the lake. Despite a few bad patches of ice and tree stumps that seemed to materialize from nowhere, the only thing really damaged were some feelings. With everything said and done, it was a very successful and popular enterprise.
Last, but certainly not least, we had the good fortune of Warrant Officer Bruce “Survival Guru” Zawalsky of the Loyal Edmonton Regiment to enlighten us some on the finer points of winter survival. After a small hike into the foothills, the squadron started with how to start a fire, stay warm, and how to preserve that fire. The fair weather in the early days made this task seem simple enough, but when the weather turned sour the final group of students had a true taste of how hard maintaining a simple fire can be. Next was shelters, a little more complex but equally important. With some teamwork and a little resourcefulness, the crew quickly turned out some impressive lodgings. With new skills in hand, B Squadron was becoming more unstoppable every day.
On behalf of the members of Prince of Wales (B) Squadron, I’d like to extend a colossal thank you to the members and staff at Legion Branch 249 who graciously hosted us in their building and let us blow off some steam. The soldiers who had the good fortune to speak with members of the Legion and were truly reminded of the reasons why we are in this business, and the gratitude shown was heart-warming and humbling to say the least.