Spruce Meadows salutes our troops

DAVE DORMER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:19 PM ET

Canada’s military is being celebrated at Spruce Meadows Saturday.

In a salute to our soldiers, 30 members of the Canadian Armed Forces and their families will take in the North American tournament as guests of the world famous equestrian centre.

“We’ve got soldiers from Cold Lake coming down, we’ve got soldiers from Calgary, from Edmonton, from Wainwright, all over the western area,” said Maj. John Cochrane, second in command of the Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians).

“What the units have done is look for soldiers that have had varying experiences and have generally been good, stalwart soldiers and worked hard constantly all year.

“Some may have been to Afghanistan, some may have been injured, some may be associated with community relations like the Military Family Resource Centre.”

Visitors will be able to get an up-close look at what Canadian soldiers do and the equipment they use on Saturday and Sunday at an interactive Military Museums exhibit in the Upper Plaza.

“We have some static vehicles that will be here,” said Cochrane. “A Leopard tank will be here, we have an armoured recovery vehicle and a couple historic vehicles coming down. One in particular is known as a Ferret scout car.

“We’ve also got a Coyote (reconnaissance) vehicle and a command post-type vehicle.”

Members of the Lord Strathcona’s will be on hand to interact with visitors — including several who are training for deployment overseas next year.

“It’s almost a team-building scenario for (the soldiers),” said Cochrane.

“They get to showcase what they do, showcase themselves as soldiers, as an organization and as a team. It really develops the camaraderie.”

The Bomber Command Museum of Canada — formerly the Nanton Lancaster Society Air Museum — will have a replica centre-section on display, complete with a mid-upper gun turret that visitors can sit in.

Fans will also get to see the Lord Strathcona’s in action when they perform a Feu de Joie, which will see 100 soldiers parade into the International Ring and fire their rifles in quick succession during the national anthem.

“It’s considered a precision drill where the rifles are brought up to a certain level, the blank is fired, and it’s done in succession down the line on one side then it goes down the back rank as well,” said Cochrane.

“It’s supposed to be done very, very quickly, it’s almost instantaneous going from one person to the next right down the line.

“It shouldn’t take more than a few seconds max.”

Learning the impressive manoeuvre, said Cochrane, actually doesn’t take that long.

“It depends on the group,” he said.

“If you’ve got an experienced group of soldiers they can pick it up in a few days.”

The head of Canada’s military, Gen. Walt Natynczyk, will be on hand to receive the salute, which goes at 1:20 p.m. Saturday and again at

1:40 p.m. Sunday.


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