By JAYMIE L. WHITE
Special to the Appalachian
STEPHENVILLE – The Canadian Military is long recognized for their service and their sacrifice for their country, and their current project taking place in Stephenville is no exception. Exercise Eastern Sapper is made up of 23 troops, some from the 4th Engineer Support Regiment at Canadian Forces Training Center, Gagetown, New Brunswick, and others from the 2nd Combat Engineer Regiment Construction Troop at Canadian Forces Base, Petawawa Ontario.
The exercise offers an opportunity for military engineers to practice and develop many job-specific skills while simultaneously providing many community groups and nonprofit organizations with valuable services throughout Stephenville.
“It’s one of my favorite things, to see projects like this from start to finish,” said Sergeant Jon Kulczvcki. “It’s satisfying to actually go do something. We’re always doing things on exercise where we build something and take it down, but here we are building something and leaving it for the community.”
By participating in this program, the troops are able to plan and execute the processes the Canadian Armed Forces uses in operations in Canada and across the globe when building and maintaining various facilities. These facilities are used to support many missions, including disaster assistance, humanitarian aid, combat missions, and daily operations.
The troops arrived in Stephenville on Nov. 8 and remained until Nov 19, and for many this is a brand new experience.
“The troops really enjoy a project like this. It gives us the opportunity to work on our trade skills and improve our competences as well as interact with the local community and give back as much as we can,” said Lieutenant Andrew Munn. “For a lot of us it is our first time in Newfoundland, so we’ve really enjoyed it. It’s beautiful. Stephenville is quaint and full of great people and we’ve enjoyed our time so far.”
Stephenville was chosen by the military for community projects, and Mayor Tom Rose couldn’t be more excited.
“I’m very proud we have Eastern Sapper in our region, taking on projects for our community,” said Rose. “This is so important to our community. It builds community pride, community spirit, and it showcases our support for the Canadian military. Eastern Sapper and this project actually take care of infrastructure that has been dilapidated, and this infrastructure upgrade will actually mean economics for the community as it draws in tourism.”
The troops have built four large sheds to be used for storage at local sports fields, repaired a bridge, disassembled old bleachers at the YMCA, and used that reclaimed wood to build screens for the gym. Other projects they tackled were renovations at the Stephenville Armory, and the building of a pergola at the beginning of Coastings Trail.
Mayor Rose said all of the projects are crucial to the town.
“The bridge, which is part of the community project, is critical to our community from a tourism perspective. A lot of ATV/UTV users utilize this trail and even walkers. So it is important to have the Canadian military here. We support the Canadian military, and they are doing some great work in our region.”
Lieutenant Michelle Noseworthy, Public Affairs Officer, 5th Canadian Division HQ, was impressed by the dedication the troops have shown.
“I am so proud of the hard work these soldiers have done during this exercise, working through cold, wind, rain and snow with smiles on their faces. We have enjoyed the hospitality and support of the Town of Stephenville and would love to come back in the future.”
Mayor Rose said that as a military town, it is especially significant.
“When we see the Canadian military in Stephenville during this current period, we are just elated,” said Rose. “The community is excited. We have a strong presence of military in Stephenville from the 1930’s, so when the residents see the Canadian military coming in their uniforms on this scale it makes us very excited, very proud, and we are very supportive.”