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.

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