Fighting Fire in Saskatchewan - Exploits of Call Sign 42C
By Lieutenant Richard Yang
After some of the driest climate in recent memory, fires of unprecedented scale broke out across Western Canada this past summer. With the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) response to flooding in Southern Alberta in 2013 still fresh in everyone’s memory, 1 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group (CMBG) was once again asked to support domestic operations. Operation LENTUS 15-02 saw approximately 850 soldiers from 1 CMBG deployed to answer the request from the Saskatchewan government in response to intense wildfires. As part of the Brigade Immediate Response Unit (IRU), Recce Patrol 42C was activated and tasked with providing our specialized skills to support firefighting efforts.
The call came from Recce Squadron leadership early Sunday morning, July 5th 2015, placing Recce Squadron IRU Patrol on standby. Immediately, the fan-out procedure was initiated and a synchronized Squadron effort began to prepare the Patrol, under the command of Sergeant Keary “Mac” McAtasney, to deploy with the IRU Battalion, 1 Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLI), the very next morning.
Our Recce Patrol was employed alongside the 1 PPCLI Recce Platoon, conducting tasks tailored for Armoured Recce. Throughout the mission, Call Sign (C/S) 42C recce’d alternate routes on highways, monitored wild-fire movement using the vehicle surveillance suite, community survey, and many other Recce tasks that maximized the use of the Coyote reconnaissance platform.
In addition to providing mission critical information for on-site commanders, the Patrol also reached out to the local community during their downtime. Trooper Nathan “Dog Whisperer” Deringer and Trooper Joshua “Can I Bump a Smoke Off Ya” Munro paid a visit to local animal shelter and kindly spent their time with some of the displaced animals. Moreover, some stoic pictures worthy of Time Magazine front page were taken by Master Corporal Travis “I Appreciate You” Silcox and Corporal Grant “O.G” Skaarup of themselves posing on top of a Coyote.
C/S 42C saw a single personnel rotation with Warrant Officer Peter “Old Man” Jones replacing Sergeant Keary McAtasney halfway through the Operation. Although additional Recce Squadron personnel were readied for a future changes, the deployment saw the majority of the original 2nd Troop crew sticking it out to the end. As the weather improved throughout the week of 22 July, OP LENTUS 15-02 saw the re-deployment of all soldiers back to CFB Edmonton.
42C’s deployment on Operation LENTUS 15-02 was extremely rewarding for the soldiers that deployed. Through their contribution to Canadians in need, 42C not only brought to the table a unique set of reconnaissance skills to 1 PPCLI, but the team also represented the Squadron and the Regiment exceptionally well.