IN NEW ZEALAND
3 Fd Regt RCA “The Loyal Company” seized an opportunity this summer to participate in a Canadian New Zealand Exchange (CANZEX). 4 members of the regiment lead by Captain Dave MacCready departed Canada on the 29th of June 2015, while Capt MacCready went down as advance party on 23 June. The members were attached to 163 Battery 16 Field Regiment Royal New Zealand Artillery (RNZA) at Linton Military Camp, New Zealand.
During the first week on ground Capt MacCready travelled with another officer to Wiaurou training base which is about 1.5 hours from Linton Camp. While at Wiaourou Camp we were teaching at the Officer Cadet School (OCS). Officer Cadets in New Zealand train for 12 months in no specific trade, however part of their training involves an introduction to certain aspects of all available trades so that when they come out of training, they can make a decision on what trade to take up. As part of our mandate here, we were teaching All Arms Calls for Fire to the students. This training included a classroom portion, a day in the Indirect Fire Trainer (IFT), and another afternoon live firing in the training area with 163 Battery who was already deployed on the week long Exercise Phoenix Rising.
MBdr Randy Kennedy, Bdr’s Beniah Sok, and Arron Daigle arrive in country on 1 July 15 after a grueling travel itinerary which was close to 48 hrs long including layovers and flight times, and crossing an international date line. Once on ground and after sorting out their kit, the next day the team deployed to the training area to join 163 Battery already in the field. The members were shown to a gun and fit in immediately, the members of 163 Battery made the team feel right at home.
The next day, which was the last day of the exercise found the battery conducting a number of very special fire missions. Not often do you find cameras and microphones strewn about the impact area, but for Director Peter Jackson, this was the case today. Mr Jackson (famous for Lord of the Rings), who is also very supportive of the New Zealand Defence Forces, and the RNZA in particular, was recording pictures and sounds effects for upcoming films. We had 120 rounds to fire in support of his recordings, which also included some danger close missions. Although spending most of his time in the OP, Mr Jackson and his entourage also found themselves on the gun line for a visit with the troops during firing, and some promotions and presentations in the field afterwards. After firing ceased, troops redeployed back to Linton Camp.
Monday of the second week found us involved in a grueling 2 hour PT session with the Kiwis which included a fairly competitive game of touch rugby among other things. Afterwards, just as they normally would, the troops carried on with a regime of week-long gun and equipment maintenance after the exercise. Near the end of the week we were granted leave for a bit of cultural immersion, for 4 days we travelled around while staying at a very accommodating army leave center in Taupo, NZ. Leave centers are placed throughout the country for the benefit and morale of the troops, they are frequently all booked up, so it’s very popular with the troops for vacations with their families.
The final week on ground started with the troops involved in helo air transport rigging training for the guns. Wednesday the 15th found the regiment in a day of parade and ceremonies. With the number of veterans of the war out numbering the current regiment on parade, the day marked the first day that 161 Battery first reported ready on the gun line in Vietnam. I witnessed the normal parade and speeches but also a lot of Maori culture with Hakas and songs. There is a massive history to the Maori culture and the story around the Haka, but basically a Haka is a challenge in the Maori culture, similar to a war cry, it is meant to challenge and intimidate an opposing force. The regiment also invited our members to practice the Haka with them, which is a great honor. While Wednesday was spent celebrating the day, the rest of the week found us doing live training with helicopters confirming what was taught for rigging the guns for air transport.
For the last few days in New Zealand, they took us to Wellington for a chance to see the countries capital before our flights out. The whole experience was found to be very rewarding, and certainly something to be proud of for members of 3 Fd Regt, as a reserve unit. We were able to come away with new ideas, new skills, an appreciation of allied forces, and most of all new friends and comrades within the family of Artillerymen.
3 Fd Regt RCA, The Loyal Company
MBdr Kennedy, and Bdrs Daigle and Sok learning to rig the L119 for Helicopter transport.
Bdr Sok learning the 161 Battery 16 Fd Regt Haka.
3 Fd Regt members learning to mount and dismount an NH 90 Helicopter from the New Zealand Air Force.
MBdr Kennedy with Mr Peter Jackson who visited the battery on the gun line.