MARPAC Sailors Cowboy Up

Calgary Stampede 362, Honourable Peter Mackay, Minister of National Defence, LCdr Andy Cooper

The Honourable Peter Mackay, Minister of National Defence (left), discusses the submarine HMCS Chicoutimi with its Commanding Officer, LCdr Andy Cooper.

Sailors from HMCS Calgary and the submarine HMCS Chicoutimi saddled up this past weekend to join soldiers and airmen and women participating in the 100th Anniversary of the Calgary Stampede. Calgary sailors make an appearance every year to coincide with their annual Namesake City visit.

The “Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth” kicked off at 9 a.m. Friday, July 6 with the Stampede parade, where fireworks and a Snowbirds flypast signalled the beginning. More than  300,000 people lined the streets to watch the parade, which included the colourful heraldry of marching bands from all over the world, over one hundred floats, horse teams, cultural displays, and military contingents.

All three elements were represented in the parade. The Naden Band of Maritime Forces Pacific led sailors from Calgary, Chicoutimi, and Tecumseh, Calgary’s naval reserve unit. They were followed by members of 1 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group (1 CMBG), a Leopard tank, and Coyote with crew. The Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) banner flew before a marching contingent of airmen and women and the Cold Lake Band. Each contingent took up the length of an entire city block, drawing applause and standing ovations as they passed.

At the Stampede Grounds, static displays from all three elements are set up to encourage interest and curiosity from the general public. Children play in the Rigid-hulled inflatable boat (RHIB) supplied by HMCS Tecumseh, clamour into a G-Wagon, sit in an F-18 cockpit and straddle the saddle on Chicoutimi’s MK 48 torpedo. The displays are very popular and well attended, but none so much as the Explosive Ordnance Disposal robot, which draws many smiles and nervous laughter when it unexpectedly follows people around. A Leopard 2A4M (CAN), Light-Armoured Vehicle, armoured EOD truck, small arms display, bomb (with saddle), Griffon helicopter and F18 armament also contribute to the display.

Elsewhere, the Commanding Officer of HMCS Calgary, Commander Paul Francoeur, was joined by his Cox’n, CPO1 Brian Schwenker, and a few Calgary sailors when they presented a cheque for $8,000 to the Calgary Health Trust at the Foothills Hospital Burn Treatment Centre on July 6. The donation comes out of the ship’s charity fund each year and is given as part of Calgary’s Namesake City visit.

Two MARPAC sailors will also get their chance to shine. Each night, as part of the nightly grandstand show, a member of the CF is recognized (nine members in total across all three elements), and on the evening of July 12 Calgary’s LS Courtney Edwards will receive a “Deserving Sailor” award. Chicoutimi’s LS John Lindstrom will take home the award the following evening.

One of the highlights of the event’s first weekend included an impromptu visit to the grounds by The Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence, and his wife, Nazanin Afshin-Jam. Mr. MacKay wound his way through each display, taking the time to talk with sailors, soldiers, and airmen and women alike, as well as several members of the public.

The static displays will remain until July 15, when the event wraps up

A/SLt Chelsea Howard, Navy Public Affairs

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