Never Volunteer In The Canadian Military
By Sandford Tuey – Canada
One day in 1976, while in Basic Training learning to become a soldier at Canadian Forces Base Cornwallis, Nova Scotia, our 3 platoon was ordered out of our barracks and to stand at attention in marching formation out front. No one had a clue why we were assembled, soon our Drill Sergeant commanded those that held a valid driver’s license to step one pace forward. I had a BC license since I was 16, so I proudly took one step forward with about a couple dozen other men. Our instructor demanded to know those of us who could drive a standard clutch, so I stepped forward once again. Fewer men were now two paces ahead of the main body of our platoon.
We were offered the opportunity to drive government equipment for the whole day, instead of running ten miles with a 100 pound back pack while wearing a military grade gas mask, a heavy FNC1 rifle and a just as heavy metal helmet, then complete a grueling obstacle course while wearing a military gas mask! No one wanted to do that and visions of driving a transport truck or tank danced in my head. Again I moved forward. All the other recruits were dismissed and returned to the barracks, only those of us that volunteered remained outside. The rest of us winners beamed with positive energy at each other, excited and looking forward to a long easy day, instead of sweating and struggling through the day’s events for us, before this new assignment. If you have ever marched in full battle gear and full pack while wearing a gas mask, you would understand.
Our Drill Sergeant bellowed out for us to quick march and our group of about ten soldiers moved in unison to the vehicle maintenance and storage area on base. We passed several military vehicles and were getting ready to drive millions of dollars of government equipment, until our group kept on going past this area. No one understood what was going on or where we now were headed. Then we stopped in front of the building where the grounds keeper facility was. Rows of lawn mowers were shiny clean and ready for use. We all were disappointed as we were told to grab one each and head to an assigned area to mow the grass and kill weeds, then gather up all the weeds on the base. All our hearts sank because we knew it was going to be a long, hard, hot day working in the sun.
That was my first and last time I ever volunteered for anything in the military!