Veteran biker club shares camaraderie in valley
A fraternity formed by those who served their country continued their camaraderie, not with implements of defense and peacekeeping but the motorcycle and the open road.
3rd CAV, the Canadian Army Veteran Motorcycle Unit for the Western Canada region descended on the valley for its annual gathering. While many riders have been through here before, this was the first time they have hosted their gathering at Wayne.
“We did Edmonton last year, and before that Chilliwack, Vancouver and then Saskatchewan. Everybody takes a turn every year,” explains Tom McCarl, who helped organize the gathering.
Riders came from across the region from BC to the west to Manitoba to the east. More than 100 came out, as well as their supporters.
McCarl explains that CAV is completely made up of veterans. While Army is in the title, memberships from all military backgrounds are accepted. Two veterans founded the organization in 2003, who met at a charity ride. Today there are more than 8,000 across the country. They are divided into three districts; 1st CAV is Central Canada, 2nd CAV is Eastern Canada and the 3rd CAV is Western Canada. Within each CAV, they are divided into units, named after battle honours. The Calgary Unit is Ypres.
McCarl explains charity is an important aspect of the organization. Its mission statement is “Ride and Have Fun While Helping Others”. The Ypres Unit is a big supporter of the Field of Crosses in Calgary.
McCarl explains it goes beyond camaraderie and into a special bond that connects many who have served, and are dealing with the emotional trauma and battle scars.
“We are very family oriented. We have people that ride with us that have PTSD or emotional problems, and as a family, because we know what it is like. We know what death is, we’ve seen death, we’ve created death,” said McCarl “We can sit down with these people and talk to them and explain that when you wear a uniform, this is your job, this is what we did, and this is what we have seen. We don’t like it but we have to learn to live with it as a group.”
He says it is particularly hard for reservists, who he says made up 85 per cent of those who served in Afghanistan and Bosnia, were from the reserves.
“They come back to a job to go to work and they are screwed up because they have now seen things their bosses don’t know and they can’t handle it,” said McCarl.
The gathering began with a campout Friday in Wayne with meet and greet. On Saturday, there was a President’s meeting as well as biker games, lots of visiting and sightseeing. On Saturday afternoon, they also held a memorial service for their fallen brethren.
“This place (Last Chance Saloon) have been awesome, they have done everything for us,” said McCarl.
This place (Last Chance Saloon) have been awesome, they have done everything for us.” Tom McCarl CAV organizer
Tom McCarl shares his experiences as a member of 3 CAV, a motorcycle club made up of military veterans, as they went through the valley last weekend.