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Friday September 30th, 2016

I was born into a military family, my late father was an army officer with the Canadian Guards in Petawawa. Most of my childhood was spent on army bases with two years in Germany. I joined the reserves in 1972 for a summer job while my Dad was peacekeeping in the Middle East.

I served with the Governor General’s Foot Guards, an army reserve regiment located in Ottawa. I served eight years part-time and two years full-time while I went to school and then later when I was a public servant with the Department of National Defence (DND). While serving, I was promoted to Sergeant, which is when this photo was taken. Later I was promoted to the rank of Warrant Officer, and then qualified Master Warrant Officer. Back then it was tough for a woman to advance in an infantry regiment. Things have drastically changed now!

This photo was snapped around 1977 in the boonies of CFB Petawawa in August during the annual militia concentration, which brings reserve units from Ontario together to focus on skills, training, and exercises. I was using a GPMG when a local photographer wanted my photo (as women in action were rare breeds back then!) I was startled by the picture with ear defenders on hence my odd gaze! I was later teased by my male counterparts.

I continued in the reserves until 1980 when my full-time career took over and later marriage and family, but I maintained very close ties with my army buddies. Next year we will celebrate 45 years since joining up. We are planning to meet for a celebration dinner at Al’s Steakhouse on Elgin St., where we have been meeting since our first pay cheque in July 1972.

I have been retired for six years now having served 34 years as a public servant in DND and eight years part-time in the reserves. My husband is a retired naval officer and we still show our support to the Canadian Forces through many charities. I read your magazine online, and we love the CF Appreciation Program.

I have purchased our plots at the National Military Cemetery with many of our alive and departed friends and my late parents. We fully support annual remembrance and commemorative events that are held for CF members as well as overseas ceremonies with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, an organization that ensures that the 1.7 million people who died in the two world wars will never be forgotten. We have also visited hundreds of Canadian graves overseas.

Carolyn Percy-Searle

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