Reservist recounts Labrador adventure
Supported Arctic Company Response Group as medical assistant
When Cpl. Nicholas Petten took a weeklong break from his studies as a first-year student at Memorial University earlier this month, it wasn’t to visit a hot spot and bask in the glory of the sun.
I think it was a great way to see up north. — Cpl. Nicholas Petten
Instead, the Clarke’s Beach native was off to Labrador, where the young Canadian Forces Army reservist supported an Arctic Company Response Team. He was there as part of the 5th Canadian Division’s annual warfare exercise, billed as Exercise Northern Sojourn.
The trip up north for a military exercise was a first-time experience for Petten.
“This year they switched it up a little bit and made it more of a tactical (mission) in terms of displaying how we’re capable of setting up a defensive line, whether that’s here at home or abroad,” he said.
That’s a big component of the Arctic Compass Response Team’s duty, Petten added. According to a news release, the annual exercise aims to test the military’s mettle in harsh conditions, making it more than ready to protect sovereignty and national interests in Northern Canada as needed.
Petten has been involved with the Army Reserves for three years. He inquired about the group on a whim one day and decided it would be a great way to gain new experiences.
As a medical assistant, he assists medical technicians, who are trained paramedics. Petten, who comes from a fishing family, is majoring in biology but has thoughts of either becoming a nurse or paramedic.
A big part of this year’s exercise was a three-day journey by snowmobile from Happy Valley-Goose Bay to Churchill Falls. A defensive line was already set up in the latter community. Petten’s group used the transmission line and the old Trans-Labrador Trail to reach Churchill Falls.
They stayed in tents without most of the amenities one might expect in these sorts of situations. The weather itself was actually a bit warmer than what Petten anticipated while in Labrador.
“Apparently in the past when they went up there, they talked about it being -40 C or -30 C, like real cold weather,” he said. “It was a bit more mild, which kind of blindsided a lot of us who were packed and dressed for -30 C, - 40C.”
Overall, the experience more than met his expectations.
“I think it was a great way to see up north,” Petten said, adding
he appreciated the training he received while participating in the military exercise.
As a reservist in St. John’s, he attends meetings Thursday nights and periodically has weekend duties. His home unit
is 35 Field Ambulance. He looks up to Master Cpl. Gregory McDougall from that unit, citing his work ethic and leadership qualities.
Cpl. Nicholas Petten, who serves on a part-time basis with the Canadian Forces Army Reserves, was recently in Labrador to take part in a special exercise known as Northern Sojourn.