Local sailor to stand watch on Remembrance Day in Ottawa

PO2 Jacob Russell. Photo by Ed Dixon, MARPAC Imaging Services

PO2 Jacob Russell. Photo by Ed Dixon, MARPAC Imaging Services

Peter Mallett
Staff Writer

A member of Personnel Coordination Centre (Pacific) has been selected for Sentry duty at the National War Memorial on Remembrance Day. 

PO2 Jacob Russell was among six military members appointed by Acting Chief of Defence Staff General Wayne D. Eyre on Oct. 25 for the National Sentry Program.

“Knowing that I was selected out of so many applicants, I was truly shocked when my coxswain announced in front of my unit that I was selected,” says PO2 Russell. “I’m proud and this is very humbling for sure because there are so many other military members that do amazing work and could have been recognized instead of me.”

PO2 Russell, 36, has served 14 years in the Canadian Armed Forces and is currently attached to the Personnel Coordination Centre (PCC) Pacific.

His normal responsibilities include managing incremental taskings for Orca-class training vessels. But on Nov. 11 he will take a break from that work and stand watch at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Ottawa during the nationally televised Remembrance Day proceedings.

He is also the Sentry Commander for the ceremony. His duties include marching the contingent on and off parade for the ceremony.

To round out the experience, PO2 Russell and the other Sentries will attend a Silver Cross Mother’s Luncheon at Rideau Hall, a guided tour of the Canadian War Museum and Canadian Aviation Museum, dinner with the other sentries, and meet with the Acting Chief of Defence Staff and Vice-Admiral Craig Baines, Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy. 

His wife S1 Laura Russell of Base Logistics and their one-year-old daughter Joni will join him on the trip to Ottawa. His father and step-mother will make the drive from their home in northern New Brunswick and his in-laws, who live near Nanaimo, will also attend.

Honouring Cpl Nathan Cirillo

PO2 Russell says his selection to the National Sentry Program also offers a strange twist of fate for him and his family. That’s because his mother’s cousin is Kevin Vickers, former Sergeant-at-Arms of the House of Commons. It was Vickers’ heroic actions that saved members of the legislature, government employees, and visitors to Parliament Hill from Michael Zehaf-Bibeau on Oct. 22, 2014.

Only moments earlier Zehaf-Bibeau had shot and killed Cpl Nathan Cirillo at the National War Memorial. Cpl Cirillo was performing sentry duty at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier when he was killed. Zehaf-Bibeau had also shot a constable at the Peace Tower entrance. 

Vickers fired one of the bullets that killed the gunman.

“As I ready my uniform and double-check my kit for the day, I will think of my cousin and his heroism and especially Cpl Nathan Cirillo and all of the other fallen soldiers who have sacrificed so much and are no longer with us.”

Sentry Program

The Remembrance Day Sentry Program was created in 1968 to publicly recognize outstanding Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members from both the Regular and Reserve Force, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) for their dedication, professionalism and service to Canada.

Those selected have been honoured with this important ceremonial duty based on deployment experience, community involvement, physical fitness, and their record of conduct.

The following personnel have also been selected as sentries for the event this year: Canadian Army Sentry, Cpl Justin George, 1 Combat Engineer Regiment of Edmonton; RCAF Sentry, Cpl William Jodoin, 21 Aerospace Control and Warning Squadron, North Bay, Ont.; Special Operations Forces Sentry, MCpl Dany Drapeau-Guay, Canadian Special Operations Trianing Centre, Petawawa, Ont.; Military Personnel Command Nursing Officer Sentry: Lt(N) Debra Fredericks, Canadian Forces Trauma Training Centre (West), Vancouver, B.C.


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