Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Support the Troops

The first Monday in August is a civic holiday in every province in Canada, and in New Brunswick it's New Brunswick Day. It is also coincidentally Armed Forces day, and as Canada's role in the conflict in Afghanistan has become more prominent with its increasingly hazardous nature, so too has the Armed Forces Day aspect of the day grown in prominence and centrality to New Brunswick Day in recent years.

This year Lieutenant-Governor Herménégilde Chaisson invited Husband and I - oh, and a few thousand other people, and a significant military presence and displays - to Old Government House for ice cream, and it seemed rude not to go. Besides, Husband - a military historian by education - wanted to see the Armed Forces' cool stuff. And besides, I do support the troops (contrary to what Stephen Harper says), and did want to get out to talk to some of them on this fine August afternoon.

A CH-146 Griffon. The helicopters are the pin-up gals of the event. They got a lot of attention. That line to the left of the chopper is a lineup of parents with kids waiting their turn to sit in the cockpit.

You may be surprised to learn that this is actually not the regular pilot. It's one of those kids whose parents patiently stood in line. She was having a hell of a lot of fun, though. As was the real pilot, left.

In another area, soldiers were helping kids with metal detectors search for things in the grass. It was pretty funny not only for the sight of the very little kids hoisting around fairly heavy metal detectors, but for their absolute, intense seriousness as they went about the task at hand.

This was the coolest thing we saw - an unmanned drone with a video camera in its nose. Husband - who flies model airplanes - is giving it the once-over, there. We had a great chat with the guy who flies the thing; he showed us the software they use to view and make sense of the video and data it records. He was a really nice young man. I asked if he'd flown model airplanes as a kid and he said, with a grin a mile wide, "Nope! I just got lucky!"

We talked about the incredible life-saving potential of these things, being eyes-in-the-sky for troops who don't have to go into harm's way to do recon on foot or in the air thanks to their deployment.

This is what your tow-truck looks like if you're in the army. No word on whether they'll give your battery a boost for $5 on a frigid day.

More kids (did I mention the kids?) get a hand crawling out of a Leopard tank.

The men and women working these displays, explaining their jobs and the tools they use to do them, are obviously hand-picked for their personable natures - not to mention their apparently unfailing patience with curious children. It's weird - it used to creep me out, on past NB/Armed Forces Days, to see small children juxtaposed with the tools of death and destruction. Now, with what is going on in Afghanistan, I see these tools with names familiar from the nightly newscast - LAVs, Leopards - as being more than that - I see them as being protective devices designed to keep my fellow Canadians safe until they can come home again, and it didn't bother me nearly as much to see children crawling all over and learning about them.

Both home computers are still kaputt, so again I'll be a wee bit erratic in my posting for a while.



Anonymous Dann said...

Hey Ronnie,

Let's see if I can tiptoe around this minefield successfully. [grin]

1. The "CH" in CH-146 stands for Cargo Helicopter. South of the border we call the same bird a UH-1x [UH meaning Utility Helicopter] and use the larger CH-46 and CH-63 for moving cargo.

I figure the variation in using the CH designation must have something to do with a metric conversion. [grin]

2. Coincidentally, I came pretty close working on the early UAV program for the Corps. Also coincidentally, my boss is the 1995 or 1996 Canadian Aerobatic RC champion. It was one of the few years where they split the competition into 'aerobatic' and something else.

He's won a few contests here in the states as well.

3. $5 to jump a car with a dead bettery? Wow. We pay $30 to $40 for that.

4. Having absolutely nothing to do with your post....but the only thing wrong with your sister's blog is the with the frequency of updates. Don't ask why, but I felt more comfortable leaving that thought here than there...


12:05 a.m.  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home