Naval Reservist celebrates 40 years of service

CPO1 Peggy Bradford.

Joanie Veitch
Trident Newspaper

When Chief Petty Officer First Class Peggy Bradford joined the Naval Reserve in 1981, she had no idea she had found her career path. She was simply a kid in Grade 11 thrilled to have landed a good summer job. 

In July, CPO1 Bradford celebrated 40 years of service as a naval reservist.

“I’ve loved it all the way, and I’m still enjoying what I do,” she says. “Being in the military, either the Regular Force or the Reserve, helps to bring out skills you didn’t know you had. You learn so much and have lots of opportunities for leadership. I think it’s a wonderful career.”

She continued with the Reserve through her final year of high school and as she completed training in Business Administration at the Nova Scotia Community College. That administrative training opened the door to more opportunity.

“I was fortunate I got to work full-time with the Naval Reserve doing administrative work for a program that later became the Maritime Coastal Defence Vessels,” she says.

Marrying her husband Trent — a Regular Force engineering officer — in 1989, the couple moved to the West Coast after he was posted to HMCS Ottawa in Esquimalt. Having always lived on Canada’s East Coast, CPO1 Bradford was excited to move across the country, where she accepted a contract as the Naval Reserve training coordinator at Canadian Forces Fleet School (CFFS) Esquimalt.

Balancing two full-time navy schedules when their son was born in 1993 wasn’t always easy, she says.

“We were lucky to have grandparents who could pitch in when we were both away. It was still really hard when we were both on deployment, but we knew we were fortunate having them so close.”

Being appointed Coxswain of HMCS Whitehorse in 2004 was a career highlight, she says.

“That’s the pinnacle job for any non-commissioned member. It was a bit scary as it had been some time since I was posted to a ship; things had changed and with a more senior role it was a challenge, but I was able to put those worries to rest quickly as I was fortunate to have a really good crew. They all knew their jobs and did them exceptionally well.”

Her time aboard Whitehorse, from 2004 to 2006, included lots of sailing, with trips to the Arctic and a memorable Rim of the Pacific deployment off Hawaii.

After a posting in Ottawa from 2008 to 2013, CPO1 Bradford and her husband returned to Halifax, where she worked full time at Personnel Coordination Centre (Atlantic), assisting with the placement of sailors on ships for training opportunities. 

In May 2018, she was appointed Coxswain at HMCS Scotian, where she was able to mentor the ship’s company in areas such as training, administration, and leadership. She turned over that position in July 2021 and is currently an advisor with the Naval Reserve Support Branch. She says her many positions within the naval training environment have prepared her for this role.  

Reflecting on challenges she’s had to overcome during her long career, CPO1 Bradford says she feels fortunate in that she’s faced few big hurdles along the way — that is until 2020 and COVID-19 hit.

“It wasn’t so much for me personally, but thinking of the sailors and how it affected them. We spent a lot of time making sure they were all right and just logistically working through all the details. It’s been difficult at times, for sure.”

When she gets a chance to pass on advice to young people thinking about their future, CPO1 Bradford loves to talk up the Naval Reserve, especially to young women, encouraging them to give it a shot.

“There are so many opportunities for young people. You get an exciting career, a chance to see the world, and to meet so many great people. It really is an incredible experience.”


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