Retired RCAF pilot tackles Nijmegen Marches
En haut: Le Capt (ret) Wendy Sewell était l’une des quatres civils qui a participé aux Marches de Nimègue.
L i t t l e di d Capt ( r e t ’d ) Wendy Sewell know when she retired from the Royal Canadian Air Force ( RCAF) that she would lace up her combat boots and walk the world’s most demanding ruck march 30 years later.
Capt ( ret’d) Sewell spent nearly seven years as a pilot in the RCAF and flew the CC-130 Hercules with 436 Squadron at 8 Wing Trenton before retiring in 1985.
Currently t he a s s i s t a nt defence attaché to the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, she was one of four civilians invited t o march t he 2015 Nijmegen Marches by Col Kristiana Stevens, Nijmegen Contingent commander.
“To be a VIP on t he Canadian team is just a once-ina- lifetime chance. It’s such an honour,” said Capt (ret’d) Sewell. “It’s grueling; they were something you wouldn’t want to do again. I think it’s the same as somebody wanting to climb Mount Everest. Why do you do it? Just to see if you can, if you still have that fortitude.”
The Nijmegen Marches is an annual event where military contingents from around t he world march approximately 160 kilometers over four days in the Netherlands. Members of the Canadian Armed Forces contingent wore standard combat gear throughout the marches and carried a rucksack weighing at least 10 kilograms.
The CAF contingent also participated in various remembrance ceremonies in France and Germany for the 70th anniversary of the Liberation of Holland, which marked the end of the Second World War in Europe. The contingent, made up of about 150 marchers divided into 14 teams, also visited Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery, the resting place of over 2,000 Canadian soldiers who died in the Battle of the Rhineland in 1945.
For Capt ( ret’d) Sewell, whose husband is Dutch, returning to Holland during the commemorations was a par t i cularly s pecial opportunity.
“I lived in the Netherlands for about 13 years and I know what Nijmegen means t o t he Netherlands,” she explained. “It ’s overwhelming when you see the crosses there. You were very aware of what those people suffered, what the countryside suffered.”
While she faced many challenges during the marches, such as dehydration and lack of sleep, Capt (ret’d) Sewell says the support and enthusiasm of the Dutch people ultimately made the experience worthwhile.
“The people there are so pro- Canadian, so welcoming, and cheering the whole time you’re marching,” she remarked. “They’re so positive and uplifting. It helps you get through the four days.”
“I think it’s the same as somebody wanting to climb Mount Everest. Why do you do it? Just to see if you can, if you still have that
Above: Capt (ret’d) Wendy Sewell was one of four civilians participating in the Nijmegen Marches.
Right: Contingent Commander, Col Kristiana Stevens, orders the parade to come to attention. A parade was held at the Canadian War Museum for the CAF members participating in the Nijmegen Marches on July 14, in Ottawa. À droite: Le commandant du contingent, le Col Kristiana Stevens, donne l’ordre du garde-à-vous aux membres du défilé. Un défilé a eu lieu le 14 juillet, à Ottawa, pour les membres des FAC qui participaient
aux Marches de Nimègue.