Air and sea cadets often serve as sentries during Remembrance Day ceremonies.
It’s a demanding task but it’s not one that’s assigned to the cadets by squadron commanders. It’s an assignment the cadets selflessly volunteer to take on.
This Remembrance Day, six cadets each from 893 Beaufort Air Cadets and Royal Canadian Sea Cadet Corps Esquimalt will man the Cenotaphs in Parksville, Qualicum Beach and Bowser.
They have to stand still for hours in one position and also brave the elements of that day. It may be snowing, raining, warm or freezing cold, the cadets can’t fidget or stretch. They have to remain virtually motionless and quiet.
For the cadets, they do it not for glory, merits, promotions or accolades. They’re not expecting any of them. They do it to honour the veterans who sacrificed their lives for us and to show others the spirit and the discipline cadets have in performing such duties.
“I can’t call it fun but I like being up there,” said Svend Annist, who has been an air cadet at 893 Beaufort for four years. “I did it last year and I am doing it again. I see it as an example of what a cadet should strive to be like up there, showing yourself to the rest of the squadron and everyone else. It’s almost my way of honouring the veterans and what they’ve done for all of the world.”
Jason Payne, who also has been an air cadet for four years, experienced being a sentry last year. He had a more pleasant environment when he sentried indoors at the Qualicum Beach Civic Centre. This year, Payne is bracing for a tougher time as he will be outdoors in Parksville. But he said it’s a small sacrifice.
“It’s a good way to give back for the veterans in the community,” said Payne. “It’s also a good symbolism and it’s good to be out there and just represent the air cadet program as a whole. It’s really a small way of thanking the veterans that fought in the wars for our freedom.”
Samuel Jacobsen, who is a senior air cadet and has been in the program for five years, will be doing sentry duty for the first time. He knows what the job entails and because not everyone volunteers for it, he said it’s an opportunity for him to do it.
“It is a demanding assignment but it’s all for a good cause,” said Jacobsen.
893 Beaufort Air Cadets captain Brenda Aumonier commended the cadets that volunteer to serve as sentries every year.
“I am always very proud when I see them want to do these kinds of things,” said Aumonier. “They surprise me all the time because they do take this very seriously. And it’s something that they have a lot of passion for. I never have to worry about having volunteers because they just love to show themselves to the community and support the people of the community.”
To prepare for such a demanding assignment, the cadets indicated there is no real training regiment. Annist explained that it’s all about mental and physical discipline.
“Physically it’s all about leg and foot strength so you don’t like tip over,” said Annist.
“But you also have to entertain yourself mentally so you’re actually awake and don’t faint.”
Aumonier said she always advises the sentry cadets to simply relax.
“I tell them to focus on how they’re feeling,” said Aumonier. “They are there for a long time and often it’s cold. They are very aware that people are watching them. So they just need to make sure that they are taking care of themselves like the wiggling of the toes, the things that keep them alert while they’re there.”
Aumonier said there’s no real protocol.
“Everybody does their own thing,” she said.