Exercise COLD STEELE 2014
By Corporal Jesse Maw and Master Corporal Paul Keller
On 17 March 2014, Recce Squadron was greeted by oddly warm Alberta weather, as they launched out the door for COLD LAKE to participate in Exercise COLD STEELE 14. The members of the squadron ditched their CADPAT clothes and issued boots for checkered bush jackets and hiking boots so they would tactically blend in with the local environment. The mood in the squadron was markedly relaxed as they arrived at the camp site; however Squadron Sergeant Major Ian “Only Two Timings” Fox was quick to remind all that this was no time to become complacent and slack on physical training and the canteen will be providing the necessities for everyone to exercise their arms and digestive system.
Exercise COLD STEELE 14 was an extremely challenging venture for Recce Squadron. Even though the soldiers were accustomed to sleeping in crew tents and eating nutritious rations, they persevered and showed no fear in overcoming and adapting to the hardship proposed by the conditions of their cabins. Soldiers somehow managed to keep themselves fit and healthy for the week despite the meager provisions of barbequed steaks and enchiladas. Lieutenant Bryce “Mustard Tiger” Simpson showed particular bravery and led the way by consuming well beyond the daily recommended intake of hotdogs.
The week began with the important business of Light Over Snow Vehicle (LOSV) training, commonly known as “taking the skidoo out for a rip.” LOSVs gradually began to take casualties and after putting up with some intensive training on the first day, only six snowmobiles survived. Corporal Richard “Dick Cousteau” Ford, in an attempt to find the limits of his machine’s capabilities, attempted to ride along the bottom of the lake while holding his breath. This riding technique yielded only limited results. Thankfully, the presence and the swift actions of our maintainers, led by Sergeant Silvio “Hard Target” Mancin, halted the tide of breakdowns
The greatest success of Exercise COLD STEELE 14 occurred out on the frozen surface of Cold Lake with a respectable haul of trout. Warrant Officer Ben “Red Fisher” Holmes and Master Corporal Mike “Call Me Ahab” St. Germain led the way as the squadron’s angling experts. Some may attribute their success to the technological advantages of their kit (including sonar), but nonetheless the level of masculinity in the wilderness had to be the most important factor. We author personally witnessed Master Corporal St. Germain deal with a tangled line by hauling a fish to the surface with his bare hands. On another occasion, he transformed into a figure with the might of a grizzly bear when he hand-bombed a fish to make it spit its hook out onto the ice. It should be noted that reports of his ability to order fish jump out of the hole with a mere whistle are slightly exaggerated. The biggest trout, measuring 3 feet and 9 ½ pounds, was caught by Sergeant Jeff “You’re Gonna Need A Bigger Boat” Limbert.
Exercise COLD STEELE 14 closed out for the week with each Troop demonstrating their thespian skills with a few skits. The audience, having had a few libations, seemed pleased with the performances. It was evident, nevertheless, that a few kinks needed to be worked out before they would be ready for Broadway. Although their acting was weak, 1st Troop should be congratulated for technical achievements in the costuming of its lead player, Corporal Jesse “Mecha Warrant Falls” Maw.
Recce Squadron returned home on 19 March after an antagonizing 100 km/h bus ride and headed into the weekend having sustained only minor physical and emotional injuries – most of which could be remedied with some rest, water, painkillers, and a few taps on the back.