Reserves host open house
Demonstrations and displays allow public to see the reservist experience
Three years ago, Ashton Redding donned his green army uniform for the first time.
Three years later, 19-year-old Redding and his fellow soldiers welcomed the public, displaying everything from radio sets to massive grenade launcher at the Canadian Army Reserve Open House in Truro Saturday.
“What made me join the reserves? Well, I was 16 years old, still in school, wanted a part-time job, wanted to have some fun and learn some skills,” said Redding. “I’ve loved it ever since.”
Redding is a member of The Nova Scotia Highlanders (North), who hope to recruit nearly 100 new local reservists. New recruits can learn skills such as outdoor survival and training on weapons such as the standard C7 assault rifle and 50-calibre machine guns.
The open house, at the Willow Street armoury, also provided a chance for family members to see first-hand what their loved ones do – and Redding’s younger sisters Skylar Frizzell and Stella Parker were on hand to see their big brother, joined by their mother, Angelina Frizzell.
As soldiers helped Skylar cock the 50-calibre machine gun – no mean feat on a heavy weapon – Angelina described what Redding’s army service meant to her.
“As long as we’re doing things together it’s happy,” she said. “Military-wise, as a mom, it’s a little more nerve-wracking but that’s just being a mom, it doesn’t matter what it is. “They like to see what their brother’s doing, they’re always asking questions and he’s always good at teaching them, so why not bring them down and they can see it first-hand?”
Visitors at the open house could get in some target practice on an indoor virtual shooting range. Rifles were hooked up to a computer screen displaying pop-up targets, for people to fire simulated shots at on-screen targets, not unlike a video game.
Lieut.-col. Colin Todd, commanding officer of The Nova Scotia Highlanders (North), was pleased to present the experience to the public, with his 200 or so soldiers.
For him, a career in the reserves does not just mean a little extra money his pocket, but valuable skills for life.
“I joined almost 32 years ago and the army helped me find my confidence. I’m a schoolteacher in my full-time job today and I probably wouldn’t be a schoolteacher if it wasn’t for my experience and training in the reserves. The reserves offer a variety of skills and training that are not only great for personal develop-
ment and growth, but the skills are often transferrable to civilian jobs as well.”
Todd said he aims to build a platoon of 38 soldiers by 2021, who can deploy with regular forces overseas. Highlanders reservists have already served in Bosnia, Afghanistan and Latvia.
Similar open houses were held at the Highlanders’ other armouries in Pictou and Springhill, part of a national effort held at reserve bases across Canada.
Stella Parker tests out a hand-held battle radio set used by soldiers of The Nova Scotia Highlanders (North) while on field operations. The army reserve group opened its Truro Armoury to the public on Saturday in the hopes of also gaining new recruits.