Our Canadian society offers youths many enriching and competitive activities. Whether urban or rural, parents have a wide choice of programs to involve their kids in: the necessary aptitudes, the program’s unique value, time commitments, connection to family history and overall costs are the deciding factors for parents to base their decision on. For the past 40 years, the 831 Black Knights Royal Canadian Air Cadets squadron has trained and inspired hundreds of youths in the City of Leduc.
The Royal Canadian Air Cadet Program is a structured youth program with a long and proud history; sponsored by the Department of National Defence and the Air Cadet League of Canada, it is geared at youths 12 to 18. It fosters interest in the air, army and sea activities of the Canadian Forces, while teaching precious values and fitness mentality.
“To learn, to Serve, to Advance” is the inspiring motto of the air cadet program. The league’s first squadrons were established in 1941during WWII. 1975 saw the first acceptance of females into the sea, army and air cadets. Regionally, there are air cadet squadrons based in the City of Leduc, the Town of Beaumont and the City of Wetaskiwin, while the Village of Thorsby boasts an army cadet squadron. Usually not very large groups, they all proudly promote leadership, fitness and citizenship. Air cadets is a free program: cadets meet once a week on “parade night” and have access to special programs and activities such as summer camps, flight school, biathlon training and sports, gliding and marksmanship.
Comradery, adventure, self-confidence and life skills are some of the benefits of the hard work invested in air cadet training programs. Each year, air cadet squadrons across the country hold an “annual review”, their own awards ceremony.
This year, 831 Black Knights Royal Air Canadian Air Cadet Squadron of Leduc celebrated its 40th annual review, held in the spacious WestJet hangar. An invitation had been sent to all commanding officers who had served the Leduc Air Cadet Squadron in the past 40 years: among those who accepted, Bram Tilroe and Tex Thember both of Leduc were happy with the ceremony, and the old colleagues they visited with. A large audience of parents, siblings and friends watched in awe as the official ceremony of awards, promotions and summer camps announcements was delivered with precision and respectful fanfare.
A special march honor was executed for WO First Class Buffalo who is leaving the squadron, as she’s turning 19 in a few days; a petite, confident young lady, she was awarded the coveted Lord Strathcona Medal, rewarding her for her skills, mature demeanor and cadet accomplishments. Many other young cadets received awards, witnessed by their proud families.
Maj. Philip Paradis of the Canadian Forces was the Reviewing Officer: a native and a resident of Leduc and a former 831 Squadron air cadet, his impressive military career includes tours in Afghanistan, Egypt, Germany and Europe and many dynamic positions within the Canadian Forces. In his short and articulate speech, Major Paradis reminded the young cadets that a résumé mention of years of air cadet training is impressive to potential employers, as they recognize the values and discipline taught within the cadet program.
Flight Sergeant Matthew Bartsch is now promoted to fifth year. A talented musician (a baritone player with the Leduc Composite High School Band), Matthew shared that “the air cadets program encourages us to set goals, helps us to do better as individuals and citizens.”
On this 40th year milestone, Leduc’s Air Cadet Squadron Black Knights Squadron 831 roster indicates 40 air cadets. Each and every one of them has performed well all year, and kudos are hereby offered to them, and their training officers: Officer Cadet and Training Officer Pickle and 2nd Lt. Martinez, Admin Officer were the ceremony`s dynamic co-emcees.
Interested youths and their families are invited to a Squadron 831 open house on Tuesday September 8 for a fun and informative chance to learn more about the program, watch the cadets “parade” and to have their questions answered by squadron officials.