Huge Crowds Attend Canada Day Salute in Edmonton

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Article / July 19, 2016

By: Captain DB Forsythe, PAO 41 CBG
The firing of a 21-Gun salute by 20th Field Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery  at the Legislature grounds has become a large part of Edmonton’s Canada Day celebrations. This year a crowd of more than 500 people was on hand to witness the gunners from 20th Field Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery (20 RCA), Alberta’s Gunners, fire the first round at 1200 hours sharp to mark Canada’s 149th Birthday.

The effort to raise the Regimental profile in Edmonton has been an ongoing priority for Commanding Officers (COs) and this morning, before the gunners had even arrived at Debney Armoury to complete the final preparations for the day, the current CO, Lieutenant-Colonel Jeff Wilson, was on the grounds doing two separate interviews with media to talk about the challenges and opportunities facing his Regiment.

 “Right now my focus is to grow the Regiment and get more soldiers,” Wilson remarked.   “The reality is I’m manned at about 40 percent of my authorised strength, so there’s lots of room to grow. And we need to grow. Our trade is highly technical and it takes a number of years to develop a private soldier or officer to a point where they will, one day, command a gun, run a recce party or command post or act as a forward observer directing fire onto targets.” 

Part of the challenge Wilson sees is the misunderstanding about the role of Primary Reserve soldiers when it comes to combat.

 “We need to do a better job in explaining that everything is voluntary. You just don’t wake up one day and find out you’re going to Afghanistan. It doesn’t work that way. You have to volunteer and, to be honest; it’s pretty competitive to get an opportunity to deploy overseas” 

Back at the gun line with the salute over, in what has become a tradition for 20 RCA, the public is invited to approach the guns and talk to the soldiers from the Regiment and get up close to the C3 howitzers.     

 “It’s really great to see so many people here today talking to our soldiers,” said Master Warrant Officer Quinn Gillard, Battery Sergeant Major for 61 Field Battery.   “I can remember years where we were lucky to have 100 people here for the ceremony. The Regiment has done a great job in raising the profile of our salutes.” 

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