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)

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Fort Langley Artists Group showcases art virtually to help hospice

Fifty per cent of painting proceeds will be donated to Langley Hospice Society

Family and friends mark birthday of teen who died after being discovered in Langley park

Carson Crimeni suffered an apparent drug overdose, his final moments broadcast on social media

VIDEO: Langley Ukulele Ensemble opens doors for socially distanced kids camp in August

Instructor Peter Luongo said precautions are being taken for the annual uke week, Aug. 24 to 28

VIDEO: Medea Ebrahimian mourned by friends and family

Memorial held for one the of three found dead at a house fire in Langley Meadows last month

LETTER: Police education and reform best solution

Langley man disagrees with defunding law enforcement, but says change is needed

QUIZ: A celebration of dogs

These are the dog days of summer. How much do you know about dogs?

300 Cache Creek residents on evacuation alert due to flood risk as river rises

Heavy rainfall on Canada Day has river rising steadily, threatening 175 properties

Fraser Valley Bandits, CEBL bringing pro sports back later this month

Abbotsford-based basketball team kicks off CEBL Summer Series on July 26

First glimpse of Canada’s true COVID-19 infection rate expected mid-July

At least 105,000 Canadians have tested positive for COVID-19 since the coronavirus was identified

Semi and BMW collide on South Surrey highway

At least one person to hospital, both vehicles sustained significant damage

Police ramp up efforts to get impaired drivers off B.C. roads this summer

July is dedicated to the Summer CounterAttack Impaired Driving Campaign

Migrant workers stage multi-city action for full status amid COVID-19 risks

‘COVID-19 has exacerbated an existing crisis’

Okanagan school drops ‘Rebels’ sports team name, citing links with U.S. Civil War

Name and formerly-used images “fly in the face” of the district’s human rights policy, says board chair

PHOTOS: B.C.’s top doc picks up personalized Fluevog shoes, tours mural exhibition

Murals of Gratitude exhibit includes at least one portrait of Henry alongside paintings of health-care workers

Most Read