Starting with a Bang
By: Lieutenant Mike Timms
2nd Troop Leader, A Squadron
7 July 2009
With the posting season squarely upon us, the successful return of A Sqn (Task Force 3-08), the pending stand up of Task Force 1-10 in September and Operation PODIUM in support of Vancouver 2010, on August 29th the Lord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians) conducted a re-organization of its personnel. For Task Force 1-10 deploying to Afghanistan early in 2010, A Squadron is the designated Tank Squadron to support the 1st Battalion of the Royal Canadian Regiment. In order to complete this task A Squadron was reorganized and new personnel were posted in. The new Officer Commanding, Major Robert McKenzie, and the new Squadron Sergeant Major, Warrant Officer David Jones, are leading an eager group of soldiers, both new and experienced. The squadron’s first task however was to act as the 100 man Guard in support of the regiment’s annual participation in the Calgary Stampede Parade and in the Spruce Meadows Queen Elizabeth Cup. This provided an excellent opportunity for the new A Squadron to begin developing its team cohesion and to begin forming the professional relationships that will serve them over the next 10 months on their road to war, and throughout their service in Afghanistan.
After much drill practice A Squadron, with attachments from Prince of Wales Squadron and Regimental Headquarters, departed Thursday afternoon for their 4 day trip to Calgary. The first event would be the Calgary Stampede Parade on Friday, July 3rd. In the parade the regiment had the Strathcona’s Mounted Troop, a 100 man formation of soldiers, a Coyote Reconnaissance Vehicle, a Leopard C2 Tank, and an Armoured Recovery Vehicle. The Commanding Officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Derek Macaulay, and the Regimental Sergeant Major, Chief Warrant Officer Joe Ramsay, rode with the Strathcona’s Mounted Troop in the Parade. The marching soldiers were accompanied by the Royal Canadian Artillery Band. The Parade went from the Stampede grounds on the far east side of downtown Calgary, down 9th Avenue to the far west side of downtown Calgary, then back to the east down 6th Avenue. The streets were packed with over 300,000 people. Of the nearly 200 floats in the parade, the soldiers from Lord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians) were the crowd favourite, receiving a deafening cheer that did not stop from the parade's beginning to end. During the parade a salute was given to the Chief of Defence Staff, General W. Natynczyk.
On Saturday, July 4th, and Sunday, July 5th, the Squadron provided the 100 man honour guard for the annual Spruce Meadows ceremonies. The guard was accompanied by the Royal Canadian Artillery Band, Strathcona’s Mounted Troop, and Lord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians) Guidon Party. In honour of the Queen Elizabeth Cup the guard preformed a Feu de Joie on both days. Representing the Queen, the ceremonies’' Reviewing Officer was Brigadier General M. Jorgensen. Those in attendance were very impressed by the soldiers’ sharp drill and performance.
The success of the parades was a positive way to mark the beginning of the summer leave block and the troops journeyed back to Edmonton with the pride of knowing they are supported, as was so well demonstrated by the people of Calgary and Spruce Meadows.