Youngster takes command of base… for a day

Photo by Lt(N) Tristan Robinson, HMCS Winnipeg; Rodney Venis, Base PA

Photo by Lt(N) Tristan Robinson, HMCS Winnipeg; Rodney Venis, Base PA

Peter Mallett, Staff Writer ~

Five-year-old Lucas Hill had something “really great” to tell his classmates at show and tell last week.

That’s because the St. Patrick’s School Kindergarten student was an Honorary Base Commander for a day at CFB Esquimalt.

He officially took the watch from Captain (Navy) Sam Sader on Friday, Feb. 14 and was fitted with a Royal Canadian Navy NCD jacket before embarking on an extensive guided tour of the base and warship HMCS Winnipeg.

Lucas won the tour with his father Greg when his ballot was drawn from last fall’s Defence on the Dock contest.

“It’s a day neither of us will ever forget and was truly incredible,” said Greg. “Lucas’ eyes were lighting up the whole time with so many people saluting him and making him feel important. The amount of coordination it must have taken to pull this off was truly amazing and very inspiring for both of us.”

Father and son toyed with the lights and sirens of a military police car, marveled at the bright red fire truck at the fire hall, and surveyed the landscape from the cab of a Transportation Electrical and Mechanical Engineering digger. On the water, the two learned about the Firebrand and what it does to fight ship fires, and then strolled up the brow of HMCS Winnipeg. 

Acknowledging that an important guest was coming aboard, whistles sounded as Capt(N) Hill was piped onto the ship. The young sailor took his place in the captain’s chair on the bridge before climbing down the ladder into the lower decks and being escorted through the passageways to the main rooms within, such as the operations room and galley. 

But it was the ship’s diver demonstration that made him awestruck as they jumped from the deck into the frigid Esquimalt harbour, disappearing beneath the black water for a moment.

“It made a really big splash because it was such a long way down,” he said of the moment.

The day’s events are still fixed in his thoughts a week later.

“I want to be in the navy and sail on HMCS Winnipeg,” he says. “I think that’s the life for me.”

His father, who had passed by the base from time to time without much thought, was amazed at the scope of work within the gates and the number of people who keep the navy going.

“After this experience, I have come to the conclusion that more people should realize the important role Canada’s military plays in our community,” he said, along with a big thanks to all who made his son’s win one of his greatest adventures.

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