Two cadets of the Aldergrove 1922 regiment have returned home from training camp in Vernon with high honours.
Emily Long, 14, and Oliver Cole, 17, were both awarded the ANAVETS, known as Army, Navy, Air Force Veterans, Cadet Medal of Merit.
“I’ve been with the army cadet program for nine years now and I’ve never had any of my cadets ever receive an award like that,” said Capt. Simon Turner, commanding officer of the 1922 Royal Westminster Regiment Army Cadets located in Aldergrove.
The medal is awarded to the top cadet in their training course for overall outstanding achievement, leadership and physical fitness.
Thousands of cadets from across Canada attend summer training and up to thirty-one medals are awarded, according to Capt. Turner.
“I am extremely over the moon proud of all my cadets,” he said.
Cole was awarded the ANAVETS medal for his completion of the basic parachutist course.
“That course is the absolute toughest course in the army cadet program,” said Capt. Turner. “It is also one of the top toughest courses in the actual Canadian Forces.”
Cole’s father, Neil Cole, said it was a surprise when his son’s name was called out because this medal has never been awarded for the parachutist course before.
“It was a really neat thing as a father to see, it was a course of 50 people and 49 other cadets mobbing him and hugging him and congratulating him,” he said.
“[Oliver] looked quite surprised, he was very happy,” Neil added.
Cole will be entering his final year of cadets in September, but plans to join the regular forces next year with the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, according to his father.
“He’s very dedicated and very focused,” said Neil. “When he sets his mind to something then – I’ve just always tried to encourage him, that he can do whatever he wants to do as long as he sets his mind to it and puts in the effort then he’ll be able to accomplish it.”
Meanwhile, Long who received her medal for the expedition instructor course will be eligible to continue with cadets for another few years until she turns 19-years-old and ages out of the program.
Long’s mother, Sarah Long, said she first introduced her daughter to cadets after seeing an ad online to join.
“I thought this is completely out of her element, but I would like her to try it and see if she likes it,” said Sarah. “She really got into.”
“It’s changed my daughter,” she added.
Long later wrote a letter for the cadets to help inspire new cadets to stay in the program.
“It was very telling of the kind of person she is,” said Sarah.
Long is an honour student at Aldergrove Community Secondary and a volunteer lifeguard at the Walnut Grove community pool while she works towards becoming a certified swim instructor.
New cadet registration will begin on Sept. 4 at 7 p.m. in Aldergrove. More information about cadets can be found at www.army-cadets.ca.