Three young Newfoundland and Labrador Reservists from all three disciplines; Army, Navy and Air Force, unite to share their stories, giving readers a glimpse into why they chose to do what they do; serve their country
They are but three of the 900 Reservists in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, and they are young; between the ages of 25 and 20. Still, all three are strong in the resolve that serving in the military is an honourable choice and an enviable profession.
Master Corporal Meaghan Frank (Army), Leading Seaman Sarah Squires (Navy) and Aviator Brody Ghent (Air Force) all say the military has given them the confidence to go after their dreams. But more than that, it’s given them the opportunity to make this province proud by serving their country.
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Sarah Squires, at just 20 years of age, says she already knows that being challenged is what makes her the happiest. When asked about being a member of the Navy Reserve (NL) she smiles.
“It is a challenging life, there’s no beating around that, but it is also so rewarding. I recommend this life to anyone and everyone that would like a challenge or a change,” she begins sincerely.
Squires says that having an opportunity to “get away” at sea is part of the reward, but there’s so much more.
“There’s nothing like getting away for a few weeks or months without a phone and learning how to connect with someone face-to-face. Once you sleep, eat, work and breathe with all the same people for a period of time, they become your best friends and your family. They see the best and the worst of you, but they always stick around.”
Strength and Purpose
Being part of the military gives her strength and purpose, she says.
“I attribute a lot of my personal strength to the military because I was taken out of my comfort zone and made a whole new person.”
Being strong doesn’t mean you are not human, however, she admits. “It’s never easy leaving your family for extended periods of time, but it makes everyone in the situation that much better at coping and the time together that much more special,” she says with a wisdom beyond her years.
Squires was born in Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s. She joined the Naval Reserves in May 2014 and is a Leading Seaman NCIOP at HMCS Cabot in St. John’s.
But being in the Reserves has brought her outside of this province of ours as well. “I completed my 12-week Basic Training in Valcartier, Quebec, in August 2014. In 2016 I spent the entire summer in Halifax doing my trade course and then on HMCS Fredericton. This past summer I was the Recruiter at HMCS Cabot until August when I left on HMCS Charlottetown for Operation Nanook, patrolling our Arctic waters. We made port stops in Iqaluit – my childhood home – and Nuuk, Greenland. Definitely an unforgettable experience. We got to do a polar dip, which meant jumping in the ocean off the side of the ship, and we crossed the Arctic Circle so we took part in a Crossing the Line Ceremony.”
First to Serve
The oldest of four says life has been nothing but adventure since joining the Reserves. While Squires is the first in her family to serve, her brother has been inspired and is now part of Air Cadet Lions and aspires to be in the Military as well.
Squires admits that joining the Canadian Military was never really part of her plans. “I didn’t really know I wanted to join the Military. I was always a water person. Growing up, I was a competitive swimmer and we lived on the ocean. I went a lot of the summer/fall with my pops and dad out on the ocean fishing or just sailing around so it was a comfortable place for me, but actually joining the Military was a spontaneous decision,” she admits.
She was in Grade 10 when she made her first bold move.
“I was young and felt I had nothing to lose at that point. I was in Grade 10, just l5, and the Naval Reserves did a presentation to my career class. I asked what the youngest you could be to join was and they said 16 years old, so on my 16th birthday, I applied online. It was definitely one of the best decisions I have made thus far in my life. It has opened my eyes to the world and brought me to places I would have never imagined – it even brought me home,” she says proudly.
‘Leap of Faith’
Being the first to serve, her family wasn’t sure what to think at first.
“My mom was extremely hesitant about the idea. She always asked ‘Are you sure you know what you’re doing?’ Looking back, I really had no idea what I was doing. I was taking a leap of faith. To this day, she is still a bit hesitant. There’s no guarantee of communication on the ships and I’m her oldest, so it’s never easy letting go.”
Her father has adjusted to the idea, she says. “My dad, he’s very proud of me and encourages me to take every opportunity with the Military. I also think he’s a little bit jealous of it all. I come back and tell him stories and he says ‘Man, I wish I could be at that’ so I know he’s a little envious of what I do,” she says with a smile.
Squires, who is currently in school studying to be a nurse in her ‘spare time’ says family is very important to her and they inspire her path and influence the choices she makes on a daily basis.
“I look up to my mom. She is a very hard working person. She left her small community at 17 years old to go to nursing school and then moved to Iqaluit to be a medivac nurse. That’s when I was born and spent my childhood there.”
Her mom means so much to her, she admits sweetly. “She, to this day, only ever works night shifts so that my siblings and I could participate in everything we wanted. My sister was a competitive gymnast, the other a basketball player – both went to Canada Games for Team NL. My brother is into everything under the sun, but mostly interested in Air Cadets and the military when he’s old enough.”
But now that she is in the Canadian Reserves, she has other idols as well.
“Everybody that has been in the military longer than me is my role model. They know what they’re doing and they aren’t afraid to help. They show true bravery, courage and kindness,” she says.
With a very promising career ahead of her, Squires says she knows this is the life for her. She chose her life’s path well, she offers with a smile.
“When you’re on that ship and you’re away, we have no choice but to mingle and help each other through. I have not come across a single person that didn’t want to help me with anything or want me to get ahead. It has been a very positive experience for me.”