Christmas wishes from overseas
Cherish every precious moment of your holidays at home with family and friends
As you enjoy the holiday season with your loved ones while complaining about the crowds at the malls, the poor driving conditions and how cold it is outside, we would like you to think of those who are serving abroad.
They haven’t seen their loved ones in months. They may have to bundle up with protection to go out in the heat and their driving conditions are like nothing you have seen. They are spending this holiday season doing the same things they have done for the last few months, on patrol in Afghanistan, working in Sierra Leone or in any of the other areas where they have been sent to perform their duties.
For them there will be no supper and drinks at Uncle Clyde’s and Aunt Mary’s. No visiting Nan and Pop’s. They won’t feel joy of the little ones after the ‘Jolly Old Elf ’ has performed his magic.
Of course I am talking about the members of the Canadian Armed Forces serving on any one of the 21 missions Canada is currently supporting overseas.
My name is Shawn Butt and I am from Carbonear, where I once was a carrier for the newspaper you are reading. I am currently serving as a Petty Officer 1st Class, onboard HMCS Fredericton, on patrol in the Gulf of Aden, off the north coast of Somalia.
Our role here is to patrol the internationally recognized traffic corridor
for international shipping as part of OP Saiph. We patrol here to keep merchant ships safe from pirate attacks and thus keeping the supplies of all types of various goods flowing. As the funnel to the Suez Canal, this area is one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world and has been the scene of increased pirate attacks in recent years.
While you are reading this at home, we are at sea in 35 degrees plus weather. The machinery spaces are over 42 degrees and we haven’t seen land for 25 days.
This might seem like balmy temperatures to you right now. But the fact that we still have to wear our fire retardant clothing ( black and dark blue) while performing our duties, often times with heavy bullet proof vests doesn’t seem as bearable anymore.
After being out this long we are running short on fresh supplies and are anxiously awaiting the arrival of mail from home. We are a well-trained crew but after this long at the same thing each day, we are starting to feel the little things that start to get on each other’s nerves. The 24 ft. x 30 ft. x 78 ft. space that we fondly refer to as “our rack” is the only space we get to ourselves.
But it is not all bad. Last night the Commanding Officer handed out the contents of a CARE package from the Women’s Institute of Gagetown near our namesake city of Fredericton, New Brunswick. It was well received with peanut butter brittle, homemade hard candy, almond roca, chocolate covered almonds and the like, a great treat to say the least.
The Conception Bay North area is very well represented in the Canadian Forces as is Newfoundland as a whole. One quarter of the personnel onboard this ship of more than 200 call themselves Newfies. Out of those, four of us come from the Compass coverage area. There is Chief Petty Officer 2nd Class Byron Pryor and Leading Seaman Doug Noseworthy from Spaniard’s Bay as well as Leading Seaman Greg Laing and myself from O’Driscoll’s Lane, Carbonear.
Byron is the Chief Engine Room Artificer onboard and holds that position after more than 24 years of training and experience as a marine engineering mechanic, technician and artificer.
Byron would like to say Merry Christmas to his mom sisters, brother and their families in Spaniards Bay and Bay Roberts, as well as the extended family up and down the bays.
“Love and miss you all. See you all next year,” he says.
Doug Noseworthy is a Naval Communications Technician serving on his first ship after completing the Naval Combat Systems Technician Training Plan at the Marine Institute, in St. John’s. He is missing his girlfriend Joanne, his mom, dad, and sister. He would like to say to all his family and friends “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, I miss and love you all”.
Greg Laing is a Naval weapons technician and is happy to be on this side of the meal line after serving as a cook for the first 11 years of his career. Greg took a voluntary Oocupational transfer in 2007 and has been pleased with his decision ever since. Greg is missing his girlfriend Erika back home in Halifax. He would like to wish her, his mom and dad, the Laing family, the O’Driscoll family and all his friends a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. “I miss you guys and I’ll see you in the new year.”
I am a Marine Engineering articifer currently training under Byron to become a Chief Engine Room artificer. Now, as with anytime we sail, I am missing my wife Peggy and two kids, MJ and Mackenzie at home in Halifax. I would like to wish Mom and Charlie and all the Butt family and friends a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. May your nights be filled with dreams and your days be filled with the opportunities to realise them. I can’t wait to see you all next year.
In closing I would like to say to all our readers on behalf of myself, my shipmates, and fellow comrades in the entire Canadian Armed Forces, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
Enjoy your holidays with the ones you love, doing all you enjoy and remember those of us who can’t be there to do the same with ours.
We love you all.
Photo courtesy Corporal Reed, Canadian Forces WELL REPRESENTED - Newfoundland and Labrador in general and CBN in particular are well represented in the Canadian Forces. Out of the 200 crew on board HMCS Fredericton, four are from the Compass coverage area. Proudly holding the Newfoundland flag on the deck of their ship are, from left: Petty Officer 1st Class Shawn Butt, Carbonear; Chief Petty Officer 2nd Class Byron Pryor, Spaniard’s Bay; Leading Seaman Greg Laing, Carbonear, and Leading Seaman Doug Noseworthy, Spaniard’s Bay.