By Shawna Bannerman
Every year, around Remembrance Day, NAIT veterans meet to connect and build a sense of community around their shared pasts. The Luncheon invite is extended to all known past and present military members who are now staff at NAIT.
The luncheons were initiated by Dan Daerendinger, a Training Specialist with Health and Safety Services, in 2018.
“The idea of the luncheon began last year, and was centered around an opportunity to recognize and celebrate amongst those with our shared experience,” said Daerendinger. “We are a community within the greater NAIT community.”
Christine Bannerman, Supervisor of Health Services, served in the military for 26 years and has attended the Luncheons since they began last year.
“This is a chance for those that are connected through NAIT, serving, retired, regular force and re-service to get together and to remember our fallen,” said Bannerman.
“It felt good to sit and to chat with people [and] to talk about different deployments we’ve been on,” said Bannerman. “It was just interesting to share stories of how we’re connected.”
Daerendinger says the Luncheon is an informal gathering and he intends for it to stay that way.
“I am not looking to make it a big organized function,” said Daerendinger.
Bannerman says they are unsure of how many retired veterans are employed at NAIT.
“We do know there’s more out there,” said Bannerman. “It’s just about potentially putting something on our website to see if there’s more that want to connect every once in a while.”
The following are a select few of those veterans who share their experiences in the military.
Peace Officer – Protective Services
I completed basic training at Cornwallis in 1988. I can honestly say that basic training was a complete life changer and that surprisingly enough, I still fold my clothes with precision even today!
I left the Military in 1993 as a Corporal. In 1992, I was involved with the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC). It was the largest UN Peace keeping deployment since the Korea conflict. Fourty-six countries participated in allowing Cambodia to have its first election.
During my tour I got to experience most of the participating countries culture, including their food and traditions! My tour has provided me with a mix of unique stories that all end with me being even more proud to be Canadian.
On Remembrance Day, I reflect on the families that have served, and many who never returned home. The large sacrifice of life that was given has a very strong impact on me.
Training Specialist – Health and Safety Services
I joined in 1992, and served for 26 years in the CAF Reserve. I was a Combat Engineer and by the time I retired had achieved the rank of Warrant Officer. I had the opportunity to deploy overseas on 4 separate occasions including 3 tours in Bosnia (98, 03, 05) and 1 tour in Afghanistan (11/12).
My favourite experiences in the military were deployments. Being on deployment presents a serious challenge to the individual soldier and to the military as a whole. Garrison duty, courses, and field training bring their own memories.
Notwithstanding being on an operational mission brings a clarity and focus to the purpose of why I joined the CAF – the opportunity to serve and better myself and the nation.
This is my first Remembrance Day out of the military. I only recently retired this year. I am looking to find my way through this transition. But I will definitely be out with my Regiment, and honour and celebrate those that came before us.
Health Services Supervisor
I joined the Canadian Armed Forces in September of 1989, and served over 32 years in total (regular and reserve). My career was as a Nursing Officer, and the last 18 years as a Flight Nurse. My last position was M Flight Commandeer at 426 (T) Sqn at 8 Wing Trenton. M Flight taught Aeromedical Evacuation to Canadian Military as well as international medical military personnel.
Although it took me away from my family, my favourite part of being in the Military was ‘medevacing’ ill and injured military back to their families and homes wherever they lived in Canada.
To me, Remembrance Day means remembering those that sacrificed their lives in all the conflicts Canada has been engaged in, those that are injured and those still having difficulties today. Now that I am no longer in the Military, I am more determined to be at Remembrance Day ceremonies wherever I am on November 11.
CNC Machinist Technician
I joined the military in June 1984 from the Halifax, NS Recruiting Centre and served for 24 years. I spent five years in the Navy as a Marine Engineer Mechanic and a Naval Electronics Technician. In 1989 I went to the Air Force as an Integral Systems Technician. During the span of my career, I worked in Cold Lake on the CF18 Fighter Jets, in Greenwood, NS where I worked on the Aurora/Arcturus Long Range Patrol aircraft, and in Shearwater, NS where I worked on the SEAKING Helicopter. In 2008 I was medically released. My wife was also in the military and we were sent to the United Kingdom for four years.
My favorite experience in the military was flying in the CF18 aircraft from Cold Lake, AB to Moncton, NB for a long weekend. Low level flying along the Saskatchewan river was amazing. You could tell how fast you were flying. Also when flying under control of the Toronto Airport they requested that we go from 35,000 feet to 16,000 immediately and the pilot inverted the aircraft upside down and nosed dived to 16,000 feet then flipped level. The G Forces were strong.
Remembrance Day has always meant a day to remember the comrades that made the ultimate sacrifice, those I personally knew and those before us in the Great Wars and all the Conflicts we have and are still involved in. My heart aches especially hard on this day. I also seem to reflect more on this day how we are honoured by the People of Canada and rejected by the Government of Canada, serving our purpose and then disposed of with very little support.
Mechanical Engineering Technology Instructor
I first started parading with 8 Field Engineering Regiment in the fall of 2007. That makes it twelve years and counting of service. I am a Combat Engineer and during that time I have been everything from section member all the way up to acting troop warrant, and in a pinch I have acted as troop commander on exercises.
My favourite experience in the military has been mentoring. That made it clear to me that I wanted to teach for my civilian career. I have taught basic training a number of times. While it is always a lot of work, it is very gratifying to see the personal transformations that can occur in the candidates in such a short amount of time.
There is a long military tradition in my family, my father, and my grandfathers. Remembrance day is always a time to reflect on their work. However, sacrifice is far from limited to their generations. Sgt George Miok taught my basic training and was my friend and mentor in the military. He was killed in Afghanistan in 2009. Every November 11th I think of George, and recommit to the work that he left behind. I have no plans to stop serving at this time.
Cabling Specialist – Maintenance and Operations
I joined the military on August 7 1989 and retired August 7 2009. I joined to become a Telecommunications Linesman after my father, Arthur Backer, who was also a Telecommunications Linesman. At the time of my retirement I was posted to the 3rd Battalion Princess Patricia Canadian Light Infantry as the Battalion Line Construction Foreman and held the rank of Master Corporal.
My Favorite memory from my service is the day I returned from Afghanistan. The look of absolute relief on my wife’s face to see me safe at home made the time away from my family fade away. I understood the strain of me being deployed to a war zone but the strain on the family who stays behind is often forgotten. The constant worry and stress was hard on my entire family.
My young sons were never kept from the truth about having a parent in the military. They were told I may not come back. My wife and I never held the truth from them. Seeing them all again was a great relief.
Remembrance Day means remembering those who served this country and paid the ultimate price, paving the way for the peace and security that is sadly taken for granted today. The men and women who have fallen believed in a country and a future that was bright and glorious. It is our responsibility and duty to remember those who fell and those whose service left them injured and scarred. They served for you all.
Remembrance Day will always be a day of memories of old friends and comrades. Of our family history retold to my sons. Of speaking with the dwindling veterans of past conflicts and hearing their stories before they are lost. The children need to know the history. This is the best way to honor our military: keeping their history alive.
I joined the military in 1979 and served 21 years. By the time I had retired, I was a Sergeant.
My favourite memory in the military was when I was posted to Canadian Forces Base Europe (CFB Lahr) for 7 years and all the tours I was involved with.
Remembrance Day reminds me, not just Nov. 11 but every day, the sacrifices that were made by the people who served our country. Some made the ultimate sacrifice which is why we have the Right’s and Freedom we have today. That meaning will never change for me.