He’s not yet out of his teens, but being a part of the military is something Robert Wells has wanted for years.
“So that’s why I joined the cadets,” he said of his time with the Royal Canadian Sea Cadet Corps 184 Curling. “Then at the age of 16 I heard that that’s when you could get into the reserves, so that was another step forward for me. I took that, and now here I am.”
Where the 19-year-old corporal with the Second Battalion of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment is is in Ottawa serving as a member of the Ceremonial Guard of the Canadian Armed Forces.
The young Corner Brook man has been in Ottawa training with the guard since May 24.
On Monday the guard will undergo an inspection by Gov. Gen. David Johnston and will then begin a summer of appearances that will last until Aug. 27.
A sergeant from his home unit told Wells about the tasking in Ottawa.
“I said right away that I wanted to do it,” he said by phone from Ottawa.
When asked why, he said everything about the possible experience enticed him.
“Coming up here to Ottawa, to a new city, being a part of the foot guards.”
He’d seen the guard in the past and said he looked up to the members.
“Now that I am becoming one of them, it feels good. It makes me proud to be one of them. People will look up to me.”
Wells said the training he’s completed with the regiment has helped him meet the demands of being a part of the guard.
“It’s all about discipline here. You need to have a high amount of discipline to stand still for an hour on end, focus on your drill movements and do them correctly. Everything in the military is one step at a time. Everything prepares you for something else.”
His day generally consists of a 5:30 a.m. rise, a run or other physical fitness at 6 a.m. which is followed by breakfast.
At 8 a.m. the guard draws their weapons and it’s parade or drill practices until lunch. After lunch it’s more parade and drill practice.
“Until we get it right,” said Wells, and added “I believe we should be good to go when the actual parading at Parliament Hill starts.”
The guard is made up of three sections, old guard, new guard and sentries. After Monday’s inspection they will begin their activities, dressed in the scarlet tunics and bearskin headdresses, with the old and new guards parading on Parliament Hill for the changing of the guard and the sentries at the National War Memorial and Rideau Hall. The Ceremonial Guard will also make appearances around eastern Ontario.
The various platoons that make up the guard will rotate through all three positions and work on a shift work schedule with four days on and four days off.
Even though he’ll act in all three roles, Wells has already developed a preference for the new guard.
“Just due to the fact you’re not always stood still,” he said.
“You’re doing drill movements and everything looks sharp. That’s what I like. I like taking pride in things like that.”
Wells thinks the summer experience will be a great benefit to him as he continues his career in the military.
“I think doing this has put my name up there, that I take it all seriously. I’ll do whatever it takes to move forward.”
Wells is looking into studying paramedicine either at home in Newfoundland or in Ottawa, but plans to stay in the reserve. Once his schooling is complete he said he’ll transfer to the regular force and would like to work in the search and rescue field.