For one Goulds family, serving one’s country has become something of a family affair
Warrant Officer Clayton Fleet and 18 year-old Corporal Naython Ryall-Fleet, might be father and son, but there’s something else too. Perhaps it’s the fact that these two men felt the same calling in life, both becoming proud members of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment.
‘We stayed together’
For Naython, a life spent in the military is what he’s most comfortable with.
“I grew up around it. I saw what it was all about. I thought I’d try it myself and I really like it. Dad was away on tours at times, but besides those times, when he moved, we moved as a family. We stayed together,” he shares.
Naython has done a bit of travelling himself so far; Labrador, Ontario, New Brunswick.
While military life has been good to him, Naython, who’s military position is PAT Pl – Personal Awaiting Training Platoon, 2nd in Command with the 1st Battalion Royal Newfoundland Regiment, admits there have been challenges.
“My toughest time was probably the initial course to get qualified as an infantryman. That was probably the most challenging because it’s the longest and involves the most work. Family support is important,” he shares.
‘I liked the challenge’
Clayton smiles at his son. A life in the military is an interesting career choice, he offers. Why did he join?
“We just had a recruiter show up at the high school one year. The guy did his little blurb, his speech about the Canadian Armed Forces and from there I said, ‘I’m going to give it a try.’ I liked the atmosphere. I liked the challenge, and now I’ve been doing this for 20 years.’’
The family has lived all over; Manitoba. Alberta. New Brunswick.
Has the life of a soldier been good for a family man? Clayton, who is an Operations and Training Warrant Officer with the 1st Battalion Royal Newfoundland Regiment and a Regular Force Cadre as well as a member of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry and has been posted to the 1 RNFLDR for the past three years in a support/mentor role, says it’s been good, but there’s certainly challenges.
“It’s been good with regards to the travel and other growth opportunities, but it is hard on the family too. We’ve moved every three to five years, moved five times now and we’re moving again. But the military is very supportive throughout and they understand and my family, they love the travel, so it makes everything a lot easier.’’
What’s it like having his son follow in his footsteps?
“It’s rewarding. I do like to see him doing something with his life and it does open a lot of doors and experiences. You get to see a lot. Travel a lot. And just the experiences that it comes with, being part of the military family, are positive ones.”
Clayton did two tours in Afghanistan. The first time he was deployed was just before the birth of his son. “First time he went away, I wasn’t born. He wasn’t there when I was born,” Naython shares candidly. “The second time, I was eleven years old. And I remember that. It was when my sister Keely was born.”
“There’s one picture. And that’s when I came home and I put my beret on the baby, I was like, this is the first time I see my child.”
Naython shares that as he aged, he understood that his dad had to go away and why.
“I was older. I understood it a bit more for what it was. We all had it. I grew up in a military base. So all of our families were like it. And the school was very supportive because every kid’s parents were military. So that’s the way it was on the base. Everyone just dealt with it.”
Clayton looks at his son. He pauses in thought.
“It’s definitely hard. If you are going for an extended period of time there’s often a lot of unknowns. Like, when are you going to come home? So, there is a lot of stress in that regard. But once again, my wife Christine is supportive. Her family grew up with the military also, so she understood the sacrifice.”
‘Not for everybody’
Clayton is preparing to leave the province on a military exercise, though he should return in time for November 11th. Naython will be at the War Memorial, proudly standing in uniform on that day.
To anyone thinking of this life, what advice would they give?
“This life is not for everybody. It definitely is not. But you gotta try to know if it’s not for you or for you. And the experiences that come with it, some are once in a lifetime experiences, and you never know where your path is going to go. It opens up doors,” says Clayton.
Naython agrees. “In the military, we’ve got people of all types, but we all have something in common. And that’s what brings everyone together for the one goal.”