CORNER BROOK — Training as a reservist with the Canadian Armed Forces, Capt. Mark Felix of Stephenville was ready for whatever mission he was asked to serve, whether on foreign soil or in his own backyard.
When the call came in September 2010 that fellow Newfoundlanders needed the help of the military after hurricane Igor brought devastating winds and floodwaters to the eastern part of his home province, he put all those volunteer hours of training to good use.
He led a team of 45 soldiers who came to the assistance of the residents of Trouty, which had borne the brunt of the hurricane’s ferocity.
On Wednesday night, Felix was one of the local reservists who discussed their experiences in marking Army Reserve Recognition Day at the Gallipoli Armoury, Corner Brook.
“These 45 soldiers, on less than 24-hour notice, volunteered got their kits ready and got on a bus and headed east — mission: unknown,” he said.
The reservists, for all they knew at the time, could have been away from their friends, families and jobs for a month or maybe even more. They didn’t know.
As it turned out, they got the job done to bring Trouty back to normal in 10 days.
When the storm-battered residents offered to return the favour by hosting a potluck supper for the soldiers, the commanding officer — who was not a Newfoundlander — urged the reservists to return to Clarenville and let the people of Trouty go about getting their lives back together.
“We were there to help them and they, being typical Newfoundlanders, turned it around and got the community together,” recalled Felix of Trouty’s collective gratitude.
“I had to explain to the commander that to turn them down would be an insult.”
One of the other presenters Wednesday night, Capt. Robert Wheeler — who served as a reservist in Afghanistan, talked about how important it was to adapt to the culture wherever it is one is serving.
Felix said the skills reservists learn to serve overseas are no different than those they need to employ when called on to respond to a domestic situation.
“There is no better feeling than being in your own province, wearing your uniform and trying to help your own people,” he said. “That was a tremendous experience.”