It has become very important day within Delta Troop (CFSCE/2 Sqn) for new Army Communication and Information System Specialist (ACISS) Development Period (DP) 1.0 courses to arrive at the moment when they are awarded their first “Jimmy” cap badge. In accordance with Branch Dress Instructions and “Education Objective 001”, our newest Signallers undergo two weeks of School and Branch Indoctrination and must pass a Branch knowledge test prior to the ceremony.
Over a number of years, it was observed that Signallers were reporting to Base Clothing Stores to pick up their cap badge. It was not treated as special or meaningful. In collaboration with numerous CFSCE Commandants, C&E Branch Chief Warrant Officers, CFSCE School Chief Warrant Officers – and the Branch NCM Advisory Committee – a plan was endorsed by the Branch Advisor for cap badging to be done primarily at CFSCE for Regular Force non-commissioned members (with exceptions as permitted IAW Br Dress Instructions). [Note: Reserve NCM Br members will continue to be given their cap badges after completion of BMQ.] I have heard some occasional feedback that it is a matter of flashing students a few slides, “then we can just give them their cap badge.” It is most assuredly not treated that simply.
Today, the program is meant to enable our newest members to understand and cope with life at CFSCE, to better understand the ACISS occupation, and to begin to develop a stronger sense of belonging in the C&E Branch. Changing our culture will happen more easily with new personnel. For that reason, we concluded that the Branch Indoctrination program on ACISS DP 1.0 was key to building that greater sense of belonging and identity. Each of us is an important part of one of the largest, if not the largest Branch, in the Canadian Armed Forces.
The program involves education about the Branch and Corps, building teamwork and esprit de corps, personal kit and room inspections, key outdoor skills refreshers, briefings about army life and the life of a signaller, and a very special tour of our Military Communications and Electronics Museum. This special tour is by the Curator and in order to be successful at this task – they must listen carefully and memorize dates and facts. When the Museum is open on weekends, each student is given the duty of providing guided tours for ½ day each. Retired and serving members especially love to visit during these times to see how well we are teaching our history.
At the conclusion of our indoctrination program, we hold a Friday Parade. (And sometimes, the parade will happen an extra week or two llater if the course needs more time to work as a team, and pass their tests.) Many can remember the weekly CFSCE Friday Commandant’s Parade from which this Parade is an echo and homage. However, this Parade is very different. It is the Sergeant Major of 2 Squadron’s responsibility to arrange for a retired member of the C&E Branch to preside over this Parade. The only rule is that only a retired NCM (or former NCM) officiate. This ceremony was inspired by a few key lines from “In Flander’s Fields” by LCol John McRae: “Take up our quarrel with the foe: To you from failing hands we throw The torch; be yours to hold it high.” Our honoured retiree will address the parade and exhort them to serve the C&E Branch, the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals, and the Canadian Armed Forces with Honour and Pride. They will then congratulate each member and present them their C&E Branch cap badge (Jimmy) and tell them to wear it with pride – they have earned it. It is an incredibly simple yet touching ceremony. Each member seems a few inches taller after the presentation. The pride of the occasion beams from the face of each member.
We thank each of the following retired personnel who have performed this important duty of passing the torch:
- WO (ret’d) Mike Gleeson;
- CWO (ret’d) Leo Larochelle;
- Sgt (ret’d) Dave Hanna;
- CWO (ret’d) Bill Fallows;
- WO (Ret’d) Frank Rubia;
- CWO (ret’d) George Smith;
- Capt (ret’d) Vernon Hayes;
- MWO (ret’d) Brent Smith;
- Capt (ret’d) John Limbert, former SCWO
- CWO (ret’d) Mel Douglas; and
- Capt (ret’d) Kevin Fathers.
If you would like to be considered for this duty in Kingston, please contact Sergeant-Major 2 Squadron, MWO Rick Taylor at (613) 541-5010 extension 5532.
Article by Major Geoff Priems and Master Warrant Officer Rick Taylor, OC and SSM 2 Sqn CFSCE