Aldergrove army cadets relive a ‘soldiers Christmas dinner’

Aldergrove’s 1922 Royal Canadian Army troop finishes a landmark year

Aldergrove’s 1922 Royal Canadian Army Cadets hosted their end-of-year mess dinner, paying homage to their corresponding army regimen and its troops both past and present.

One of them, Royal Westminster Regiment Lt.-Col. Chuck MacKinnon, sat at the head table along with seven other officials Thursday evening.

Mess dinners originated more than a century ago, and have carried on through the Second World War, MacKinnon explained.

“This dinner itself is a soldier’s Christmas dinner,” MacKinnon elaborated.

Vancouver’s infantry regiment the Seaforth Highlanders, “on an assault in a town called Ortona during their Italian campaign [in 1943] stood outside the church where soldiers inside ate their Christmas dinner.”

“The fighting was still going on so soldiers had to rotate in shifts to get fed. For some of them… it was the last time,” MacKinnon said.

Fallen soldiers were memorialized by an empty table – off on its own – with a single red rose and slice of lemon on a bread plate, reminding the room of such a bitter fate.

READ MORE: Aldergrove cadets march on BC Place at half-time for veterans

Though most who attended last Thursday’s dinner were suited in dress uniforms or clothes – including police from Vancouver, and Abbotsford – there was a mother and son who stood out from the crowd.

Natasha Baldwin was convinced to attend the dinner by her youngest son, Nikki, who falls a year short of qualifying for the program.

“He really wanted to come,” Mom said, “He can’t wait until he’s a cadet.”

For Baldwin’s older son Steven, 15, the cadets has made him “calm,” something his mother thought might never be possible.

Diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) Steven was once a child who never kept still.

Through the program, the cadet has cultivated an inner sense of responsibility.

Mother of Sgt. Emily Long has seen numerous changes in her daughter, one being that she is more “down to earth” after excelling in the cadet program.

“I have seen a change in how I treat people, because of cadets. I value myself more and expect to be treated with more respect,” Long wrote in a letter to help inspire new members to stay in the program.

The 15-year-old also admits she is no longer reluctant to engage in sports because of cadets.

Long received an ANAVETS (Army, Navy, Air Force Veterans) Medal of Merit this summer during training camp in Vernon.

RELATED: Aldergrove cadets awarded high honour at training camp

At the mess dinner, Long was recognized with a certificate of recognition from the Royal Westminster Regiment Association for all that she’s accomplished this year.

Ret’d. Captain Bob Chessel presented Long the award, saying Long “has achieved excellence in everything, especially physical fitness.”

Long was one of two 1922 corps cadets recognized with the ANAVETS medal, which is “unheard of” touted MacKinnon. The second cadet was Chief Warrant Officer (CWO) Oliver Cole.

Cole acted as president of the Mess Committee (PMC) for the dinner and led cadets, guests, and their families through the formalities of the traditional dinner.

Commanding Officer (CO) of the 1922 regiment Simon Turner, who has overseen development of youth in the program, was one of the last to say a few words.

“It’s been very challenging to say the least,” Turner explained about his time as CO, which nears its end after a three-year service term.

“Every challenge and every task you undertake has made you stronger,” Turner said to the cadets.

“Many of you used to be little 12-year-old cadets, very shy and timid.”

Turner admonished, “Now, all of you have the potential to be a leader.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Cadet Steven Baldwin, 15, enjoyed a traditional turkey dinner at Aldergrove’s 1922 regiment mess dinner. (Sarah Grochowski photo)

Sgt. Emily Long (left) was recognized for excelling in the cadet program by Ret’d. Captain Bob Chessel of the Royal Westminster Regiment. (Sarah Grochowski photo)

An honoured head table consisted of representatives of the Royal Westminster Regiment, cadet league, parents sponsoring committee, veterans, and two young cadets. (Sarah Grochowski photo)

Natasha Baldwin was convinced to attend the dinner by her youngest son, Nikki, who falls a year short of qualifying for the cadets program. (Sarah Grochowski photo)

Just Posted

OUR VIEW: Fox fight continues

Thanks for keeping this courageous young man’s vision alive 40 years later

Lantern Park townhomes set to open this Sunday on Aldergrove/Abbotsford border

Developer Peter Reimer said more homes, including a mid-rise complex, are in store for the future

Scarecrow Festival given COVID twist

Art’s Nursery’s annual fall fundraiser, on the Langley-Surrey border, continues with some tweaks

Greater Vancouver Zoo turns to zoom for virtual visits

Aldergrove attraction encourages online learning while construction commences to modernize park

Plea deal results in guilty plea in fatal Langley shooting in 2017

First degree murder charge amended to conspiracy to commit murder

3 new deaths due to COVID-19 in B.C., 139 new cases

B.C. confirms 40 ‘historic cases,’ as well

Air quality advisory ends for the Lower Mainland

It had been in effect since Sept. 8

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

The court’s second female justice, died Friday at her home in Washington

Emaciated grizzly found dead on central B.C. coast as low salmon count sparks concern

Grizzly was found on Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw territory in Smith Inlet, 60K north of Port Hardy

VIDEO: B.C. to launch mouth-rinse COVID-19 test for kids

Test involves swishing and gargling saline in mouth and no deep-nasal swab

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Young Canadians have curtailed vaping during pandemic, survey finds

The survey funded by Heart & Stroke also found the decrease in vaping frequency is most notable in British Columbia and Ontario

B.C. teachers file Labour Relations Board application over COVID-19 classroom concerns

The application comes as B.C.’s second week of the new school year comes to a close

CHARTS: Beyond Metro Vancouver, COVID-19 cases in B.C. haven’t increased much recently

COVID-19 case counts outside of Metro Vancouver have been level since July

Most Read