2016 goes out with a bridge

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Article / February 14, 2017

By Maj Leah Byrne, 39 CER

After packing the dishes in the dishwasher following Christmas dinner, sappers started jumping into their cars, boarding planes and climbing on busses to start their journey, from as far away as Newfoundland, to British Columbia to take part in the combat engineering Exercise PALADIN RESPONSE at the Pacific Regional Training Centre in Chilliwack, B.C.

One hundred and ninety engineers and support staff, including medics from 11 and 12 Field Ambulance, participated in the exercise. The engineers practiced their skills, and in 27 per cent of the cases, received their first exposure to three types of bridges. Throughout the Exercise, which ran from December 26-31, troops rotated through three sites to erect and deconstruct the Acrow Bridge, Medium Girder Bridge and Medium Raft.

On December 29, the troops were visited by Brigadier-General Simon Hetherington, Commander, 3rd Canadian Division, and Chief Warrant Officer Stevens, Sergeant-Major, 3rd Canadian Division. A special part of their visit was the Commander’s presentation of the Sacrifice Medal to Master Corporal Jonathan Cumming for his service in 2009 with Delta Company, 1st Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry on Operation ATHENA.

Colonel Dave Awalt, Commander, 39 Canadian Brigade Group (39 CBG), along with Chief Warrant Officer Sean Parker, 39 CBG Sergeant-Major, also observed the sappers cheerily doing what they love, despite being soaked and muddy in the rain.

The exercise culminated in a spirited competition between the three Troops to determine which section could construct a single strand Medium Girder Bridge in the shortest time. It was proven that a gap of 26 feet can be crossed by vehicles within 15 minutes and 14 seconds.

While being away from family during the holiday season is difficult, the Reservists were highly motivated to participate in the 39 Combat Engineer Regiment-led exercise. The motivation comes from the training they receive in all of their Engineer mobility (or domestic operations) tasks. It was indeed a fine way to say goodbye to 2016.

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