Officer prepares for sentry duty at Ottawa cenotaph

Lt(N) Derek Carter

Peter Mallett, Staff Writer ~

Standing solemnly at the corner of a cenotaph on Remembrance Day is a task steeped in military tradition; a highly visible public duty that requires physical stamina and a stellar service record.

This year, joining the six Canadian Armed Forces members and one member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police at the National War Memorial in Ottawa will be a nurse from CFB Esquimalt.

Lieutenant (Navy) Derek Carter of Canadian Forces Health Services Centre (Pacific) will stand guard at one corner of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier dressed in his N1 Service Dress with white gloves, white belt, and medals, head bowed, hands atop a rifle, representing the Canadian Forces Health Services Group for Nursing.

“It’s a great honour to be selected as one the sentries and represent Canadian Forces Health Services Group and the nursing community itself,” said Lt(N) Carter. “From a professional perspective, being able to stand with our current and former service men and women, acknowledging those who have sacrificed their lives, is a privilege.”

His appointment to the 2018 Remembrance Day Sentry Program was a surprise and an honour.

The 49-year-old sailor, with 29 years’ service to Canada, recalls joining his family in his Port-aux-Basques, Newfoundland, home, watching the nationally televised ceremony every Nov. 11. While Lt(N) Carter was posted at CFB Halifax, his father (who has since passed away) travelled to Halifax to join him in attending the Remembrance Day ceremony.

Lt(N) Carter enrolled in the Canadian Armed Forces in 1990 as a Boatswain and served in various warships of the Pacific and Atlantic fleets. In 2001 he transferred to Canadian Forces Health Services as a Medical Technician, and in 2006 obtained a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Dalhousie University.

His brother, who lives in St. Albert, Alberta, will travel with him to the ceremony, while his sister, who lives in Newfoundland, will continue the family tradition and watch it on television.

Lt(N) Carter is the first member of his family, that he is aware, to serve in the military.

“The playing of the Last Post is always an emotional moment and will certainly remind me of my father and mother,” he said. “It will also remind me how important Remembrance Day was to me and my family and the community I grew up with, and to those who remember the service men and women who have sacrificed,” said Lt(N) Carter.

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was created by the Royal Canadian Legion in 2000. It is located at the site of The National War Memorial, which was unveiled in 1939 to commemorate the response of Canadians during the First World War.

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  1. Hi Derek that’s such an honour Your mom and dad would be so proud you and your mom came to my house a lot when you were young All the best

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