Remembering sacrifice

Brandon Anstey
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Local cadets to attend overseas commemorative tour

Honouring the past with remembrance and respect is the pinnacle of military history.

Two local cadets will be in Europe this spring to experience that history and to pay their respect while on a special commemorative tour.

Jonathon Patey and Nathan Schofield, along with 10 other cadets from the province, have been selected to attend services in France and the United Kingdom to mark the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Normandy in June.

Jonathon got the news just before Christmas while attending a cadet meeting. It was an exciting moment, said the Gander teenager.

“They mentioned it to me while we were all standing up together. After they mentioned it to me, they also approached Nathan about it too. Me and him were both ecstatic that we’re going.”

It was a surreal experience for Nathan, who’s from Glenwood.

“I was speechless,” Nathan said. “I’m really excited.”

Cadets were asked to write essays on why they should be selected to go on the commemorative tour, and Jonathon wasn’t stuck for any ideas.

“I wrote about how I went on the Royal Canadian Legion trip to France this past summer, and some of the awards I got throughout my cadet program,” said Jonathon. “I basically just described everything I possibly could about what I’ve done over in France and what I’ve done in the squadron.”

The young cadet had uncertainty about whether or not he would be selected to go on the tour.

“At first, I didn’t think I would be selected,” said Jonathon. “Because I was selected to go on the legion trip to France (this past summer), I was kind of thinking I wouldn’t get it because a lot of other cadets out there were trying for it. I figured I might as well go ahead and put my application in to see what happens, and low-and-behold I got selected to go again.”

It was a scroll of family military history that won Nathan his seat on the trip. It’s a history he hopes to continue, he said.

“I wrote about how my whole family has been in the military. My great, great grandfather was in the First World War.”

The trip will mark the anniversary of what is referred to as one of the most daring invasions ever. Over 5,000 Canadian soldiers were killed when Allied forces stormed the beaches of Normandy to claim victory over the power-hungry Nazi army in June of 1944.

Jonathon is familiar with the great battle but hopes to learn more after  taking the commemorative tour.

“I know that Normandy was the landing beach for when the war started,” he said. “When they went over there they had somewhat of an idea what they were going to get into, but the way the Germans had everything set up there; they had no idea what they were going to walk into.”

The situation must have been a terrifying experience for those involved in the fight, and providing air support the day of the invasion would have had him sweating bullets, said the young cadet.

“I would have been overwhelmed with it because for a pilot to do the things that they did back then, it would have been phenomenal; they had a lot of courage to do that.”

The two cadets are required to raise $3,500, and are asking for help wherever they can get it.

“What I’ve been doing so far is I’ve gone to a lot of businesses here in town and I’ve told them what I’m doing,” said Jonathon. “I’ve given them letters to show that this is not a hoax, and I’m basically asking for any donations that they can give me.”

Cadets often have interest to join the military after completing their programs and these kinds of trips are a way to boost that kind of interest, said Nathan.

“The trips encourage it, do something good for your country, you know.”

Jonathon agreed.

“All that I hope for is that the knowledge that I get when I’m over there is not only going to have an impact on my involvement in cadets, but also my further career in the military and such.”

Remembering those who lost their lives in military service is an important part of history, and it’s one that should never be forgotten, said Nathan.

“It’s important so that we remember all those who died for a good cause and to remember their sacrifices that they made for us.”

Organizations: Royal Canadian Legion, Nazi army

Geographic location: France, Normandy, Europe United Kingdom Glenwood

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