Calgary sailors cowboy up at Stampede

Photo by LS Sisi Xu, MARPAC Imaging Services

Photo by LS Sisi Xu, MARPAC Imaging Services

By Lt(N) Paul Pendergast – Maritime Forces Pacific PA

Sailors from HMCS Calgary once again donned their Smithbilt hats at the 2018 Calgary Stampede.

Twenty-eight Calgary sailors participated in the 10-day event as part of an annual namesake city visit and were joined by the National Band of the Naval Reserve, as well as personnel from the Naval Security Team, Naval Tactical Operations Group, Canadian Forces Fleet School (Esquimalt), Fleet Maintenance Facility Cape Breton and HMCS Tecumseh.

This year marked the 106th edition of the ‘Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth,’ and officially kicked off when the navy led the military contingent in the Stampede Parade. Thousands of Calgarians lining the streets stood and cheered enthusiastically when the sailors and soldiers passed by.

On the Stampede grounds, the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) was joined by members from the Canadian Army and Royal Canadian Air Force at the Canadian Armed Forces display.

The crew of Calgary made a stop at the Foothills Medical Centre to donate $3,350 from their charity fund to the Calgary Health Trust in support of the Burn Unit.

Calgary raises money for the Trust and other charities through various activities, including 50/50 draws, barbecues and their Cowboy Up event, which brings Calgarians and friends of the crew on board to meet the Calgary crew and experience a day on the ship.

Money donated by Calgary in previous years has been used for purchasing priority equipment, staff education and research for the Burn Unit.

“The Calgary Stampede attracts in excess of 1.2 million visitors to the grounds,” said Commander Blair Saltel, Commanding Officer of Calgary. “That provides the RCN an occasion to inform Canadians and visitors from abroad on our capabilities and accomplishments. Furthermore, it gives my exceptional sailors the chance to excite potential recruits about the opportunities and adventures a career in the RCN provides.”

Along with the display at the Stampede Grounds, there were events around the city such as daily pancake breakfasts, where navy personnel joined volunteers in serving breakfast for up to 5,000 people. The Navy Display Bus provided information to young and old on life at sea and ashore with the RCN, and “Sonar” the navy mascot was there to entertain the children.

According to Lt (N) Sonja Maul-Wilson, the people of Calgary are very patriotic and have welcomed the crew of Calgary with open arms.

“People are constantly approaching us and thanking us for our service,” said Lt (N) Maul-Wilson. “It happens a lot here.”

After the Stampede festivities, the crew will transition to the job of preparing the ship for its next mission. At the end of July, Calgary will deploy on Operation Projection. This is a five-month patrol in the Western Pacific that will include visits to Hawaii, Guam, Vietnam, South Korea, Japan and Australia.

Operation Projection will demonstrate RCN operational capabilities, and the flexibility to contribute to a range of requirements: support to international missions, strengthening relationships with allies and partners, and responding to humanitarian or security related incidents in the Indo-Asia Pacific, if required.

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