By S.L. Furedi
The 279 Elk Valley Air Cadets put on an impressive show for family, friends and invited guests at their annual ceremonial review in Sparwood, May 29, 2013.
The teens, aged 12-18, showed off parade skills, received awards and were evaluated by a group of invited guests.
Every cadet unit in the country participates in an annual inspection and review, to show their skills meet the standards set by the Department of National Defense and the Air Cadet League of Canada. Units are graded on dress, deportment and drill.
Commanding officer Captain Murray Clow said he was impressed with how the cadets handled themselves.
“This group of young people have worked very hard this year and should be proud of their achievements. They are an extremely focused squadron, and have spent a lot of time together, both in and outside of cadet time. That has made them a really cohesive unit. They respect and look out for each other, and I think that shows.”
Throughout the training year, the cadets have participated in range and effective speaking competitions, gliding and flying, campouts, sports nights, and trips with other cadet squadrons. They have also made themselves more visible in the community through volunteering at Remembrance Day services, poppy sales, the Toys for Tots fundraiser, the Sparwood Lions TV Auction and other events.
Awards were presented to: Leading Air Cadet (LAC) Braydon Furedi, best first year cadet; Flight Corporal James Fairhurst, best junior non-commissioned member; Sgt. Matthew Wasiewicz, best senior non-commissioned member; Sgt. Nathaniel Suwala, award for best dress and deportment and Lord Strathcona Medal; Flight Corporal Joel O’Sullivan, regional Effective Speaking Competition winner plaque; and Flight Sgt. Zachary Thompson, Royal Canadian Legion Order of Merit and leadership award.
A highlight of the evening was the first formal presentation of the newly formed Jr. Squadron (also known as J Squad). Yvette Doratty, co-chair of the Squadron Sponsoring Committee, says the group is made up of 10 and 11-year-olds.
“These are the kids who really want to join cadets, but are too young still. To keep them interested, we have started the J Squad, and we invite them to some of the fun stuff the cadets get to do, such as hiking, orienteering, and our Christmas party. They are each given a t-shirt and hat, and while they aren’t a part of the official squadron, they are the future of our squadron.”
Sgt. Ben Doratty was the cadet who trained the young J Squad for their first official appearance.
A member of the reviewing party, Captain (ret.) Keith Kepke, of the Air Cadet League of Canada, said this is the first Junior Squadron and will be watched carefully to see if it is a successful pilot project to promote more interest in the cadet program.
Major (ret.) Marika Szabo, and Major Shawn Ferguson were also part of the reviewing party, as well as Stan Kilford, president of the Michel-Natal Royal Canadian Legion. Other invited guests included members of the Fernie, Sparwood and Elkford Lions Clubs and the Fraternal Order of Eagles, and representatives from the districts of Sparwood and Elkford.
Although weekly meetings have ended until September, many of the cadets will spend part of their summer vacation at various camps throughout Canada, learning leadership, survival skills and aviation. The camps are free and last from two to six weeks, and cadets are paid for their participation.
The air cadets program will start up again in the fall. Meetings are held Wednesdays from 6-9 p.m. For more information on the cadets, call Captain Clow at (250) 425-1271, or visit the squadron’s Facebook page at firstname.lastname@example.org.