Tanks for mem­o­ries

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY DANIEL MACEACHERN dmaceach­ern@cb­n­com­pass.ca

A Bay Roberts cadet finds an ex­change visit to Ger­many very ed­u­ca­tional.

When Kelsey Bar­rett got be­hind the con­trols of a tank in Ger­many, she knew it wasn’t your av­er­age sum­mer va­ca­tion.

In fact, the Bay Roberts army cadet was one of 22 cadets from across Canada cho­sen to par­tic­i­pate in a Ger­man ex­change pro­gram.

Cadets were cho­sen to take part in ex­changes with coun­tries in­clud­ing Ger­many, Aus­tralia, Nor­way and Scot­land. Bar­rett was one of four fe­male cadets cho­sen for the pro­gram.

Step one was ba­sic train­ing and a fit­ness test to make sure she was ca­pa­ble of tak­ing part in the train­ing in Ger­many.

“ When we got to Ger­many, we just toured around a lot and we had to do an­other fit­ness test up there, a Ger­man one,” she said. “ That was a lot harder than the Cana­dian one.”

Bar­rett, 16, said the Ger­man fit- ness test in­cluded a shot put, swim­ming 300 me­tres within a cer­tain time, long jump and high jump, and a 25-me­tre sprint.

Bar­rett’s tour in Ger­many in­cluded vis­it­ing the Ger­man par­lia­ment and mil­i­tary train­ing sites, in­clud­ing a tank train­ing site.

“ We had the op­tion there to go in the tanks and drive around and shoot them,” she said. “It was amaz­ing. They’re re­ally small on the in­side, and re­ally loud. I loved it. It was noth­ing like I ever done be­fore.”

Bar­rett spent three weeks in Ger­many, vis­it­ing var­i­ous places of in­ter­est - and con­stantly keep­ing up with her train­ing, in­clud­ing a twohour run.

“ We weren’t al­lowed to stop run­ning at all. You weren’t al­lowed to walk. You had to be con­tin­u­ously run­ning, and it was in a thun­der and light­ning storm,” she said, adding that it was hard, but she still man­aged to fin­ish. “Af­ter the first hour your body kinda goes numb and can’t feel it any­more.”

And there wasn’t any rest for the weary, ei­ther; the day af­ter the twohour run, cadets had a moun­tain march sched­uled.

Ger­many was Bar­rett’s first choice for the ex­change, she said, sim­ply be­cause she thought it would be an in­ter­est­ing place to visit.

“I know about all the wars and ev­ery­thing that went on up there, so there had to be a lot of things that hap­pened there - there had to be a lot of dif­fer­ent army train­ing,” she said. “I just fig­ured that it would be the most en­joy­able place to go. Aus­tralia is mostly tour­ing, and I know that Scot­land is mostly army, like they do ev­ery­thing army-re­lated, so I knew that Ger­many you get a bit of both worlds.”

And while Bar­rett al­ready knew her his­tory, she still learned a lot about Adolf Hitler and the Nazis, some of which came to the for­mer Ger­man leader’s com­mand cen­tre the Ea­gle’s Nest.

Bar­rett said the trip helped give her a broader un­der­stand­ing of what the mil­i­tary is all about, and she learned how Ger­many’s mil­i­tary his­tory has af­fected the way Ger­mans look at the mil­i­tary to­day.

“ They’re not al­lowed to have cadets over there be­cause they’re afraid of - Hitler had th­ese youth groups,” she said. “So they’re afraid if they have cadets it will be some­thing like that again. So they’re not al­lowed to have cadets there.”

But the trip wasn’t all his­tory and gru­elling marathons; Sun­days were fam­ily day, says Bar­rett, and that’s when she’d visit a lo­cal fam­ily for a home-cooked meal.

She learned a lit­tle Ger­man and met a lot of peo­ple, Bar­rett said. She also went to her fel­low Ger­man stu­dents’ last day of school. “ They had a big car­ni­val, and we went there and we got to meet some of their friends at school. So that was fun,” she said.

Bar­rett said she isn’t sure if her mem­ber­ship in cadets will even­tu­ally trans­fer into a mil­i­tary ca­reer, but she is en­joy­ing the ex­pe­ri­ences she’s had so far with Bay Roberts 2372 Army Cadets.

“I have no idea if army’s the way I want to go in the fu­ture,” she said, “ but it’s def­i­nitely a pos­si­bil­ity. It’s some­thing I re­ally en­joy, and I get a lot from the ex­pe­ri­ences that I do and the places that I go with it. It’s def­i­nitely a pos­si­bil­ity for the fu­ture.”

Bay Roberts cadet Kelsey Bar­rett says she learned a lot on a re­cent ex­change trip to Ger­many.

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