Faces of the 5th Canadian Division

Each week, the 5th Canadian Division will profile a #5DivSoldier that helps keep the #MightyMaroonMachine going while remaining #StrongProudReady for any and all challenges.

Trooper Jeff Gravina

Trooper Jeff Gravina, an Armoured Reconnaissance crewman from the Prince Edward Island Regiment is currently participating in Exercise STRIDENT TRACER 2017, a large Army reserve combat training exercise being held at the 5th Canadian Division Support Base Gagetown from August 18-27, 2017.

"There are a lot of real people. The Army is made up of a lot of real people."

Hometown: Kensington, Prince Edward Island

Years of Service: 1 year, 3 months

Home Unit: Prince Edward Island Regiment (PEIR)

Who is your role model?
My parents (Adam and Sara Gravina) inspire me a lot. My role model in the Canadian Armed Forces is Warrant Officer Chad Wilkie of the Halifax Rifles and an instructor on my Armoured Reconnaissance crewman’s course, because he is enthusiastic and passionate about teaching us the proper ways and ensuring that we are efficient.

What do you do in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF)?
I am an Armoured Reconnaissance crewman an war fighting function that uses vehicles to gather information, often in enemy territory. There are a lot of complex tactics and strategies that are used to operate while remaining undetected.

What is the best part about being in the Canadian Army/ 5th Canadian Division?
The people you meet and the experiences that you have at work. You meet people that you wouldn't normally get an opportunity to. There are people on my course that I have really gotten to know in an in depth level while working together close quarters together. They are all round just really cool people.

What is your most memorable experience?
The courses that I have taken thus far because that is where all of these great people and great experiences have come together whether in barracks, in the classroom or on our off time.

Why you have stayed in the CAF?
It is a great job, it pays well and there are a lot of different work opportunities.

What would you say to someone that is considering a career in the CAF?
Give it a try, give it your best shot. Really push yourself to do the best you can and at the end of the day. It is definitely a worthwhile experience. It is not all fun and games, it is stressful at times but when you go through those stressful times you get to the end of it, you realize how exciting the experience really was.

What would you like the Canadian public to know about their Army?
There are a lot of real people. The Army is made up of a lot of real people.

Captain Sarah Gray

Capt Sarah Gray, Armour Officer from Halifax Rifles, plans during Ex STAGED RESPONSE. Photo: WO Jerry Kean, Image Tech, 5 Cdn Div HQ

"I am currently the Course Officer for DP1 Reconnaissance Crewman at 5 CDTC. This course is challenging as it teaches young soldiers how to operate as a member of a crew, from shooting the C6 GPMG to driving the LUVW tactically. Teamwork and crew cohesion is an essential aspect of this course and will carry on in their careers as crew men and women.

The best advice I can give to any young person in Atlantic Canada, especially if they are going to school, is to consider the Army Reserves as an employment option. As a student, this was the best job I could have asked for. I have had full summer employment, great leadership and management training, benefits such as tuition reimbursement and a flexible schedule to attend classes. If I had to do it all over again I wouldn’t have it any other way."

Hometown: Cole Harbour, N.S.

Years of Service: 4

Home Unit: Halifax Rifles (Royal Canadian Armoured Corp-RCAC)

Who is your role model?
I have had several role models whom I looked up to throughout my career. The most recent one I have come to admire is Sandra Perron, the first female infantry officer in Canada. Her story, to me, is a lesson in leadership – even when facing adversity or change, we must take care and look out for one another. She paved the road for women in the combat arms and I am grateful to learn from her experiences to become a better leader and soldier.

Previous Deployments:
None

Why did you join and what do you do in the Canadian Armed Forces?
I joined the Canadian Forces, in particular the Primary Reserves with the Halifax Rifles (RCAC), because I was an Army Cadet for 7 years and learned to love the military lifestyle. I am currently the Battle Captain for Recce Squadron where I plan training in garrison and in the field as well as take care of personnel administration.

What is the best part about being in the Canadian Army/5th Canadian Division (5 Cdn Div)?
My favourite part about being in the Army in 5 Cdn Div is the challenging and diverse training we get to do. We will be receiving our new vehicle platform, the TAPV, sometime this year which will bring an exciting new challenge to the Armoured Reconnaissance reserve regiments in Atlantic Canada. Being in the Canadian Army has also motivated me to take up graduate studies (Masters in Public Administration and Juris Doctor).

What is your most memorable experience?
My most memorable experience has been attending the Worthington Challenge over the past 2 years. The first year Primary Reservists were invited to compete 5 Cdn Div won top LUVW crew in Canada. It was a rewarding experience watching our team work so hard and getting the credit they deserved.

Why have you stayed in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF)?
I have stayed in the CAF because I love my job and the work we get to do. There is always something new to learn and a new challenge to take on. I couldn’t have asked for a better part time job as I transition into going to Grad school in the fall.

Sergeant William Michael MacPhee

Sergeant William Michael MacPhee, a Vehicle Technician from 36 Service Battalion (Sydney Detachment) works on a grinder in a vehicle shop.

“I like filling the position of Course Warrant for the RCEME Common at 5th Canadian Division Training Centre because these future technicians we train are just starting their careers. This is the first trade-related course they will take so we (course staff) get to be the ones to introduce them to the RCEME Corps.”

Hometown: New Waterford, NS

Years of Service: 17

Home Unit: 36 Service Battalion (Detachment Sydney)

Who is your role model?
Warrant Officer Guy Thivierge (Vehicle Technician)

Previous Deployments:
Golan Heights: Operation DANACA ROTO 82 (2004-2005)
Afghanistan: Operation ATTENTION Roto 3 MCT (2013-2014)

Why did you join and what do you do in the Canadian Armed Forces?
I’ve been interested in the CAF ever since I was in Air Cadets. Now I am a Sergeant, Vehicle Technician in the Corps of the Royal Canadian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (RCEME).

What is the best part about being in the Canadian Army/5th Canadian Division?
Leadership training and experience. I believe long term involvement in the Canadian Army can build skills that will make you a more capable person.

What is your most memorable experience?
My first deployment.

Why have you stayed in the CAF?
This job can challenge you. It is rewarding and a whole lot of fun.

Sergeant Natalie Matheson

Sergeant Natalie Matheson, a Mobile Support Equipment Operator from 36 Service Battalion (Sydney Detachment) prepares a vehicle for a task.

“There is never a shortage of learning in the CAF, that’s the best part. You’ll never have to become complacent with what you’re doing; because there is always another opportunity waiting for you, you just have to push yourself and you’ll achieve success.”

Hometown: Glace Bay, Nova Scotia

Years of Service: Ten

Home Unit: 36 Service Battalion (Detachment Sydney)

Why did you join and what do you do in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF)?
I joined the CAF to give my life a change of pace and give myself more challenging experiences. I am a Mobile Support Equipment Operator and I’m currently an instructor at 5th Canadian Division Training Centre (Detachment Aldershot).

What is the best part about being in the Canadian Army/5th Canadian Division?
The best part of being a part of the Canadian Army is having the ability to improve myself both on a personal and professional level. I also have an excellent opportunity to train the fresh minds coming through my trade and to help improve them as soldiers and people in general. At the end of the day it’s a very rewarding feeling.

What is your most memorable experience?
My most memorable experience, I would have to say there isn’t just one for me. Anything that involves hands-on training (especially in a field setting, taken from your daily routine, working with your platoon with a great level of morale) those are the best experiences for me.

Why you have stayed in the CAF?
It keeps me motivated to keep pushing farther for myself, the mentality and of course knowing that the unlimited amount of experiences you can gain is just an arm’s reach away.

Sergeant Melissa Walcott

Sgt Melissa Walcott at the 2015 Army Run. Photo: Zoomphoto.ca

“The military is a great career that includes benefits, stable pay, family support, education and experiences like no other. There truly is something for everyone!”

Hometown: Pugwash, Nova Scotia

Years of Service: 20 years (6 reserve, 14 regular force)

Home Unit: 5 Canadian Division - Headquarters

Who is your role model?
From a professional side, LCol EleanorTaylor. As a previous Officer Commanding of 1st Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment, she showed me how to earn respect, maintain confidence and lead effectively. She is strong, courageous, kind and fair. I was honored to have worked under her command in 2009 and am happy to be part of the Division Headquarters with her currently.

From a personal side, my kids, husband and family are what keep me going. They show me every day that life is worth living, how to enjoy it and that when things are difficult, you still have to keep going. They are what keep me healthy and strong.

Previous Deployments:
Afghanistan 2007

Why did you join and what do you do in the Canadian Armed Forces?
I was looking for a challenging job. With the military I was able to get an education while being employed to serve our country. Currently I am an Army Communications & Information Systems Specialist, but I started my career in the Reserve as an Infantry Soldier and a Medical Technician.

What is the best part about being in the Canadian Army/ 5th Canadian Division (5 Cdn Div)?
The people. Some of my truest friends, support system and role models have been those I have met in the military.

What is your most memorable experience?
Being selected by the Commander of the Canadian Army to be an honoured guest for the Army Run 2016. Having the support of my Chain of Command and being recognized for something I worked and trained hard for was really an amazing experience.

Why you have stayed in the Canadian Armed Forces?
The experiences and opportunities. I have had many firsts while being in the military and there are so many things I would have never done in the civilian world.

Captain Robert Wheeler

Captain Robert Wheeler gives a tour of the 5th Canadian Division Training Centre to members of the Canadian Women’s National Hockey Team.

“There is truly no life like it. The opportunities are endless and the skills I have learned are plentiful and a positive influence to any employer.”

Hometown: Meadows, Corner Brook, NL

Years of Service: 35

Home Unit: 2 Battalion Royal Newfoundland Regiment

Who is your role model?
Gen (Retired) Rick Hillier, another proud and successful Newfoundlander.

Previous Deployments:
Op ATHENA Roto 3, Kandahar

Why did you join and what do you do in the Canadian Armed Forces?
I wanted to be a team player with something bigger and the reserves was a perfect fit.

What is the best part about being in the Canadian Army/ 5th Canadian Division?
In the beginning it was a part-time activity and it quickly became my focus which eventually led to some very interesting training opportunities that have created many fond experiences and great friends.

What is your most memorable experience?
NATO tour in Afghanistan, 2007 was a life changing experience. It was very humbling and rewarding to be a part Task Force 107, Operation Athena.

Why you have stayed in the CAF?
The Army Reserves has been very rewarding to me and all the skills I have learned I want to give back to the next generation of young soldiers.

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