News: US Army Reserve Soldiers, Canadian Forces Build Rapport
By Cadet William Cynecki
HAPPY VALLEY-GOOSE BAY, Canada – More than 300 U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers from the 980th Engineer Battalion, located in Austin, Texas, touch down on 5 Wing Goose Bay’s soil to conduct Operation Northern Frontier, a mission that will not only build bridges and roads but also rapport with one of America’s closest allies.
“It’s important to actually come to Goose Bay and work with [Canada’s] military and contractors,” explained Capt. Michael Davis, the plans officer for the 980th Engineer Battalion and resident of Austin, Texas. “This way we really get to know the Canadians as a people and discover our differences and vast similarities, firsthand.”
Capt. Raoul Tremblay, a Royal Canadian Air Force construction engineer with 5 Wing Goose Bay, agrees.
“We’re always going to be working as a coalition force, so it just makes sense that we train together and familiarize with each other before deploying,” said Tremblay.
Tremblay and Davis were key components to this mission’s year-long planning process. The two took advantage of their experience in multinational operations to make this collaborative training a success.
"Seeing the results after a year’s worth of planning was the best experience ever,” remarked Tremblay.
“One of the things I like about the American military is the way they take care of their Soldiers, It’s something that I picked up and apply today,” added Tremblay.
Tremblay was given a coin by a Canadian general for his role in planning and organizing this mission and he decided to give his coin to an American Soldier whom he observed with an outstanding work ethic.
According to usmilitary.com, challenge coins have a rich history in the American military, which the Canadian Forces later adopted.
In both militaries, commanders present the coins to members of the unit who are deserving of recognition for special achievement.
“When I was going to the different sites I saw a private who was working extremely hard and I wanted her work to be recognized, so I gave her my engineer coin,” said Tremblay. “You have to be willing to give up things that you care about for the people you care for,” he added.
The U.S. Soldiers felt 5 Wing Goose Bay's hospitality.
“[The Canadians] have bent over backwards and provided us with tremendous support,” said Davis. “They bring to the table a great fighter and partner,” he added.
The 980th Engineer Battalion falls under the 416th Theatre Engineer Command (TEC), the higher command that tasked them with Operation Northern Frontier.
“It would be nice to see the support from the 416th continue on. Operation Northern Frontier stands as a 2-year agreement and we hope that the higher command will actually support this adventure of a partnership for the long term,” said Tremblay.
According to curator of the Labrador Military Museum and Canadian Sgt. (retired), Max Peddle, Operation Northern Frontier has brought the largest presence of American troops to Goose Bay since 1990… but American presence here dates back even further.
“President Franklin Roosevelt’s son, a captain by the name of Elliot Roosevelt, was one of the surveyors to find Goose Bay,” said Peddle recalling the July 1, 1941 discovery.
The strategically located flat land that Roosevelt helped to discover, soon would serve as a major transportation hub for military aircrafts traveling across the Atlantic during World War II.
After the airfield and buildings were quickly constructed, the population of the new base boomed.
“At one point there were over 25,000 Americans here and Goose Bay was the second busiest airport in the world,” said Peddle who was happy to see American uniforms back in Goose Bay.
During his 42 years of service for the Canadian Forces, Peddle had trained and fought with many different nations including the Finns, Polish, Americans and Austrians.
“We come together and we make it work,” said Peddle.
Peddle’s words bear truth through history and can be used to describe America’s ongoing missions, including Operation Northern Frontier.