By Cpl Aaron Hodgin
29 May 2009
There we were, standing on the HLS waiting for the helicopter that never seemed to come. One person at a time would say, “Oh I think I can hear the chopper coming!” And once again, someone would say, “No… that is just a gator man”. When we were all positive we could hear the chopper actually coming in, we were overcome with a feeling we will never forget. Taking a quick glance when on the helicopter, all you could see through the dirt and piles of kit was a smile. That was just the start of a chain of good feelings. Things such as the simple pleasure of leaving the shower on while showering; or just to head down to the board walk and use some of those Timmy bucks you have been saving in your barrack box for countless days.
Then there was one feeling we all missed for a long time, having a beer… not to mention being clean and having the awe inspiring view of Cyprus. For the first night in Cyprus we had a curfew of 12:30 pm. we all thought we could go hard all night. Some might have even been saying, “Let’s break curfew!” and of course, “YEAH!” was the reply. In the end what actually happened? Yes you guessed it, everyone in bed or passed out by 10:30 - 11:00 pm. In Cyprus we continued with Battle Mind classes each day and some events such as Jet skiing, deep sea fishing, spa treatments, and general sight seeing. And of course, some of us just chose to just lie in the sun or float in the water, sippin’ on pina coladas by the pool bar. Then, like all good things, it ended and once again we were in uniform. But this time it was for the long journey home. Spirits were high through most of the travelling. The flights were filled with laughter and snoring. Upon arriving in Canadian airspace we were given a five-star welcome home by some fellow members of the CF; the air force was escorting our flight with two CF-18 Hornet jet fighters. Finally, we landed in Edmonton, gathered up our belongings, loaded on to the buses, and drove up towards the base. Members of the Edmonton Police Service, Fire Rescue Service, and various other organizations and fellow Canadians displayed overwhelming support; lining the streets and saluting our convoy as the police escorted us up to the base. The early morning did not stop these supporters from honking their horns, waving flags and cheering, demonstrating their solidarity with us.
Once the bus stopped in front of the LTF no one could hide the smile on their face. As we walked through one more hallways, excited and laughing, we finally saw those doors open and all the faces of family and friends waiting to welcome us home. There were smiles from ear to ear smiling back at us, some so happy that tears could not be held back. Parents were reunited with their spouses and children. Boyfriends and girlfriends met their significant other for the first time in what seemed like years. (To be able to stop and talk for a bit, exchange hugs all around, and to have a conversation without a five second delay was the best feeling in the world.) Many soldiers even had the opportunity to introduce their family and friends to the people we spent the tour with in the big sand box.
All the soldiers now had a chance to sit back and relax with each other on home turf. Soon after our half-days at work, everyone went on there separate ways and headed for “home”. Then there was the feeling of either being at the house you grew up in, or just the taste of some good home cooking. After what can seem like forever or as fast as a blink of an eye, our leave was over and we were either flying back or taking a long drive back to Edmonton. Once everyone was back our ears were immediately filled with all the stories and exciting tales of being back in Canada.
Everyone is starting to show back up at work, realizing how weird it seems to be in green CADPAT again. Getting back on a PT schedule is nice but a little hard on the lungs of the smokers, and a bit harder for those who might have had one to many to drink. We all go through these few days of wondering what is next. But it won’t take long till everyone finds out where they are off to and when. With everything said and done and soldiers starting their next adventure we all ask one question, “When are we on leave again?”