It was just 10 years ago when Jami Carter (nee Suchan) was standing “out there” as a senior air cadet officer with the Wylie-Mitchell Squadron, she told the local cadets who had assembled in their own hall for the annual review. The event marked the end of their training year on May 22.
“Back then, I was just hoping the speeches weren't going to be too long because we had to stand in the ranks,” she said with a chuckle.
Since then, Carter attended the Royal Military College, attained a degree in chemical engineering, graduated with a rank of lieutenant and was assigned to Canadian Forces Base Gagetown, then accepted a promotion to captain, got married, served in Jamaica and then served a tour of duty in Afghanistan as building project manager, returned to Canada and is now stationed in Winnipeg where she is working on a master's degree in bio-physics engineering.
But it all started, she noted, as a 13-year-old rookie in the Wylie-Mitchell ranks with an air cadet squadron she felt passionate about.
She was welcomed back as the guest reviewing officer by the squadron's commanding officer, Acting Lieutenant Danielle Fleury, who was Carter's squadron mate 10 years ago.
Audrey MacMurchy, chairwoman of the parent committee, served as emcee for the evening's program that included a review of the ranks as well as the march past followed by the presentation of awards to individual air cadets who had excelled during the past year.
The audience of about 120, that included parents, relatives and friends of the 28-member squadron, heard short speeches from the winners of the local squadron's effective speaking contest delivered by Warrant Officer Second Class Derek Dubowski who spoke about cadet leadership training experiences and Leading Air Cadet Matthew Cinnamon, who spoke about summer camps.
Fleury outlined the various activities engaged in by the squadron during the past year of training that included outdoor survival, Remembrance Day, Christmas Kettle volunteer services, gliding and flying experiences, sports days, fundraisers and the squadron's hosting of the provincial air cadet curling finals this past spring.
Area director Lori Carr noted that the Estevan squadron has been a vital part of the community for 70 years and she urged parents to keep their children involved since the squadron training provides them with many benefits and opportunities that can be used later in life.
“The cadet lifestyle taught me how to challenge myself,” said Captain Carter as she addressed the squadron.
“When you find yourself in a trench with nothing but guns, grenades and other military guys who haven't been able to bathe or shower for several days, your training kicks in,” she said with a laugh.
“But you also know that there is always someone with you and I know I would serve again in Afghanistan in a heart-beat. It taught me self-confidence and I learned how to lead while I was there,” she said. “So I say appreciate what you have here. You're learning about deportment and that can help you no matter what career you choose. Take what you can because it will all be over before you realize it.”
Former officers along with Carter, Fleury, Carr and civilian instructors made the presentation of awards with Sergeant Jason Mack coming out as the collector of the most hardware as he was deemed to be the best dressed cadet over the past year, the best at drill and deportment as well as the winner of the coveted Top Overall Cadet Award.
Other awards included: Top First Year Cadet (tie) LACs Makenna Wock and Matthew Cinnamon; Top Second Year Female Cadet, Corporal Kelsie Jackiw; Top Second Year Male Cadet, LAC Brayden Kaip; Top Third Year Cadet, Flight Corporal Ethan Clarke, Most Improved Cadet, Flight Corporal Mary Cameron; Best Dressed in Ranks, Air Cadet Kenton Jones; Esprit de Corps Award, Warrant Officer Second Class Derek Dubowski.
Cadets who answered the roll call every week were also presented with perfect attendance awards.
It was also noted that a total of 14 Wylie-Mitchell cadets had been selected for a variety of summer training camps this year which will include general training, basic survival, aviation technology, music and basic leadership.
The evening concluded with a social and refreshments for everyone.