Royal Departure and Spruce Meadows 2011
by Lt Matthew R. Shumka
On the morning of 7 July 2011, Recce Sqn along with attachments from HQ and A Sqns conducted final kit and uniform checks and loaded the buses for Calgary. After a week of drill practice the day had arrived. There was excitement amongst the Sqn, perhaps based upon the fact that they would soon be standing in front of and be inspected by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and perhaps because it was the start of the Calgary Stampede and all of their evenings were free from tasks.
Friday 8 July 2011 would mark a historic event in LdSH(RC) history. Tasked as the Departure Guard for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Recce Sqn provided a 100 man Guard of Honor along with the Guidon Party. A Battery of Guns from 41 CBG fired a 21-Gun salute and the RCHA Band played the music for the event. The list of VIPs in attendance was impressive. In addition to the Duke and Duchess, VIPs included the Prime Minister of Canada and his wife, the Governor General of Canada and Canada's top solider, the Chief of Defence, General Walter Natynczyk. During his inspection of the ranks, Prince William, guided by Guard Commander Major Mark Lubiniecki, stopped to talk to several soldiers. He was genuinely interested in the soldiers, asking detailed and specific questions regarding our involvement in Afghanistan. With hours and hours of practice in hand, the ceremony was completed in what seemed to be a fraction of time, totaling no more than 30 min. This was a momentous occasion for both Recce Sqn and the Regiment as the LdSH(RC) 100 Man Guard of Honor was elevated to the world stage.
The pace continued as the remainder of the weekend would have Recce Sqn's 100 Man Guard of Honor completing a Feu de Joie at Spruce Meadows on both Saturday and Sunday. Saturday saw national coverage with honored guests, the Prime Minister of Canada, along with the Governor General of Canada, His Excellence the Right Honourable David Johnston. The Strathcona Mounted Troop was also on hand to provide a demonstration of the Regiment's history as a Calvary unit and join in the Family Day events. Military personnel from all elements along with their families were also on hand as they were sponsored by the ATCO Group as a show of appreciation to Military personnel, their families and the sacrifice of those who did not return from battle. The crowd showed their respect and honored all on hand with a standing ovation. Both days ended with a Feu de Joie and two march-pasts which once again kept those in attendance on their feet.
All three events went off better than expected and pushed Recce Sqn and the Regiment into both the national and international spot light. The professionalism, dedication and honor was displayed for all and received with great acclaim. Although the weekend was full of excitement the bus trip back to Edmonton on Sunday 10th July was a sigh of relief for the soldiers of Recce Sqn who could return to the high paced life back in garrison.