‘Final Round’ marks an end to 37 years of service

Article / February 7, 2020 / Project number: 20-0011

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By Lt(N) Andrew McLaughlin, Public Affairs Officer, 31 Canadian Brigade Group, and Corporal Cody Misner, The Grey & Simcoe Foresters.

Meaford, Ontario — On a brisk October afternoon, Major (Retired) Greg Frank loaded a C3 105 mm Howitzer. It was a task he had completed literally thousands of times over his 37-year career in the Canadian Army Reserve but this would be different: it was the last round he would ever fire.

Maj (Retd) Frank had witnessed other such ceremonies to mark the end of a Gunner’s career before, and understood the significance of that ‘final round.’

Maj (Retd) Frank enlisted in the Canadian Army in 1978 as a private with 11th Field Artillery Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery (RCA), a unit of storied history with batteries in Guelph and Hamilton, Ontario.

The unit originated in Guelph in 1880, when the 1st Provisional Brigade of Field Artillery was authorized to be formed. Maj (Retd) Frank was 17 years old when friends convinced him that the excitement and opportunity offered by joining the Army Reserve were for him. And besides, he could use the extra money and liked working as part of a team.

After a few years working his way up the Non-Commissioned Member ranks, Maj (Retd) Frank made the jump to Officer in 1982, and completed a degree in engineering at the University of Guelph. In 1987 he left the Army to pursue a business career, but returned to the 11th Field Regiment in 1992.

He made it all the way to the rank of Major by 2002 while working for an environmental engineering firm where he focused on the remediation of contaminated sites. Throughout his civilian career he experienced many challenging and exhilarating moments and opportunities to grow as a leader.

“But there’s nothing quite like the responsibility you have as an officer in the Army,” he says.

After all, employing the heavy weapons that the RCA brings to bear and leading a team that makes them work, takes skill, practice, and confidence. Maj (Retd) Frank says those traits were put to the test during an exercise at Garrison Petawawa in 1986 where, as a young Captain, he worked as a Forward Observation Officer, dug in right at the front line, observing where friendly and enemy forces are located, and directing artillery fire by radio.

Maj (Retd) Frank and his troops independently moved around the impact area and called back adjustments to the troops operating the guns, directing artillery fire onto designated targets during a simulated major combat action. 

“We were pretty proud of our work on that particular exercise,” Maj (Retd) Frank says. “It validated all the hard work and preparation that a young Artillery Officer and their team does, in order to bring accurate and timely firepower to the battlefield.”

Maj (Retd) Frank deployed in 2007 to Bosnia as part of the NATO peace and stability mission there, joining the headquarters intelligence cell, where his many years of experience served him, and the mission, well.

Maj (Retd) Frank looked back on these times fondly, as he prepared to load and fire the final round of his Army career on that cool October day at 4th Canadian Division Training Centre in Meaford – a place where he had spent so many weekends, weeks, and months.

After loading the round and taking his place beside the howitzer, the retiring Gunner would now have the opportunity to fire his last round - a time-honoured tradition common to all ranks on their final exercise. As the command was given, he fired instinctively – not giving the moment much thought in that split-second – exercising a discipline that was perfected over several decades.

The reflections that rushed in soon after were bittersweet, says Maj (Retd) Frank.

“It was a sad moment, but I’m happy that I had the chance to experience so much over my time with the Canadian Army. It was definitely a decision that I would repeat, every single time.”

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