Sentry duty honour 

HMCS Discovery’s sailor pays tribute at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Members of the National Sentry Program (rotation 7), stand together for a group photo next to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the National War Memorial in Ottawa on Nov. 23, 2023. Photo: Corporal Jadin Gaudett, Canadian Forces Group

A/SLt Alexandre Khoury

Standing guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the National War Memorial in Ottawa is a great honour and privilege few military members receive. It is a remarkable task that involves strength and endurance.

As part of the National Sentry Program (NSP), the Canadian Armed Forces have had Sentries stand guard at the Tomb from Apr. 9 to Nov. 10, seven days a week, since 2014.

Sailor 1st Class (S1) Steven Wei of HMCS Discovery was pleasantly surprised to be chosen as one of two Naval Reserve representatives to participate in this year’s NSP.

For almost one month, two hours a day, S1 Wei fulfilled his solemn duty of standing guard at the Tomb, where he and another member would be the center of attention and in full view of the public.

“Seeing friends and families of those who are serving or have served pass by to pay their respect, I felt proud to directly honor that service member,” S1 Wei said.

While S1 Wei was on duty one day, the mother of Corporal (Cpl) Nathan Cirilo visited the Tomb. Cpl Cirilo lost his life in 2015 while on duty as a Sentry in the same place S1 Wei was now.

“It was at that point the significance of everything we were doing, where we were, and why we were doing it came together,” said S1 Wei. “We were standing where he once stood, and he deserves to be honoured and remembered.”

S1 Wei enrolled with HMCS Discovery in 2014 as a Naval Combat Information Operator. He served Canada worldwide with many ships on various deployments and exercises. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, he served as the In-Command and then as Second-in-Command on Operation Laser, assisting government entities such as Canada Border Services Agency with setting up COVID-19 testing sites. He is back at HMCS Discovery, where he serves as the Recruiting File Manager and Alternate Information Systems Administrator.

He has this advice for his fellow service members regarding the Sentry program:

“I recommend putting your name forward for the program and getting the experience, even if it is just once,” he says. “I gained a new perspective, appreciation and understanding of Remembrance Day after this opportunity.”

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