A group of veterans living in a Prince Albert care home were among a supportive crowd who came out to send off a group of military personnel to northern Saskatchewan.
Over the next few days, 500 servicemen and women with the armed forces will undergo a crash course in firefighting training in Prince Albert before crossing over the city’s Diefenbaker Bridge to assist in the international efforts to tame unprecedented wildfires.
A convoy of about a dozen military vehicles left Prince Albert this morning for la Ronge.
Posted by panow.com on Tuesday, July 7, 2015
Lorna Bennett works at the Herb Bassett long-term care facility, and said many of the 144 residents are veterans.
“We got together a few of our residents to show our Canadian pride, not just for today and for everything but this is an activity that you won’t see very often,” Bennett said, standing just off the bridge before military vehicles headed north on Tuesday.
The firefighters involved also deserve a nod, Bennett said, noting their efforts are supported every day of the year for work “that some people don’t realize until you have a crisis.”
Grant Tavish was also present to see the convoy head out. He has a personal connection to where the group is going.
“We have, or we hope we still have a cabin up in La Ronge, Lac La Ronge. So glad to see them out, just to thank them. But really wished it would have been a little bit sooner,” he said.
The first 200 of the military members who have already been trained crossed the river before 10 a.m. on Tuesday.
However, those members will be back around suppertime after doing reconnaissance to familiarize themselves with the lay of the land in the areas they’ll be helping out with.
Brian Kominar, the public affairs officer with this operation, said this is in keeping with military protocol.
Army personnel expects to get direction from the province by Wednesday on what their services will be needed for. After that, they’ll start setting up camp closer to the wildfires.
In domestic aid situations, personnel answers to firefighters and the province, Kominar explained.
All of the 500 military members in Prince Albert at this time are based out of Edmonton.
– With files from Nigel Maxwell
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