SERVICE SECOND TO NONE Chapter 20: VERNON, B.C.

CH 20 VERNON, B.C. (NOV 1984) (with photos)

Surprisingly an opportunity came my way. There was a message to all sections that they needed a supply tech in Vernon, B.C. for a month to control and audit a cadet band’s instruments and I wanted to put my name in which of course. I did I had never been to B.C. Dean said it was o.k. and within a week I found out that I was chosen to go for the month. I was so excited despite the guy Collin who I actually was on my TQ 3’s in Borden with, who just did a month there and demanded to come back. Collin warned me that the instruments inventory was all screwed up and the major in charge of the cadets was no help. Despite his warning I still wanted to go and besides it was too late now I had already been assigned. If what he said was true I’d just have to deal with it when I got there. Vernon is a city in the Okanogan region of the Southern Interior of British Columbia. Located on the southern outskirts of the City of Vernon, Vernon Army Cadet Summer Training Center is one of the most picturesque Summer Training Centers in all of Canada. The training center sits on top of Mission Hill surrounded by hills and forested mountains.  When driving from the airport I saw beautiful orchards and emerald-green lakes it was amazing. The base was minute and what little of the city I saw was small (20,500 people).

VERNON BC CADET CAMP 1

VERNON BC CAMP SIGN

Cadet 2nd Lieutenant Vanna Mitchell was at the reception building to meet me and take me to the barracks where I’d stay the typical wooden H-Hut shape building. After dropping off my gear she took me on a tour of the tiny base and then took me to the band building. Vanna explained that the cadets learned drill, marksmanship, fitness, leadership, and music. Well the instruments were really messed up because the serial numbers recorded on the documented records were completely different from the serial numbers on the instruments themselves. As best as I could tell the cadets kept the newer instruments and returned old beat up ones. Despite Vanna trying to get me to fudge the serial numbers I refused and went through each instrument and recorded the serial numbers that were on them which took all night at the end of which I was so exhausted I felt like crying. Vanna had pressured me the whole time to just sign off on them and trying to even read half the numbers that were faded or etched out was almost impossible. On the happier side I learned to drive a deuce truck with a canvas-back to pick up box meals for the cadets and to transport their instruments around in. Also while in Vernon I had the opportunity to ride a horse in the rocky hillsides and Vanna drove me to a local emerald-green lake that you could see to the bottom of. There were no weeds or algae and no fish and the surface was eerily calm. In all I’d have to say the actual job sucked and was highly stressful but the scenery was astounding I couldn’t get enough of it I loved to take in big breaths of the cool crisp air.

VERNON BC HORSE RIDING

When I was stressing at the end of the day I went for a walk breathing in and out like you do in a doctor’s office when he listens to your chest with a stethoscope. Before I left the commander asked to speak to me and when I gave him the report he wasn’t happy in the least. I told him that I wasn’t recording fake serial numbers and the numbers on the report are physically the numbers on the instruments and the fact that they don’t match the initial serial numbers of instruments that were loaned out to the cadets wasn’t in my control. When he asked what I thought could have happened I had no choice but to be honest and tell him I thought they might have swapped them with their own instruments from home because I couldn’t think of any other explanation. I did feel sorry for Vanna because she did get in a lot of trouble for the debacle but I had to cover my ass too. If I had the choice to go or not again knowing just how bad the stock was I’d have to say I’d be 50/50 on the matter.

VERNON BC CADET CAMP 2

ARMY TRUCK

Although I had no social life to speak of outside of the Snowbirds, I did talk Dean into going to a Base Supply Christmas dinner in the warehouse. He felt very uncomfortable with my crowd and I thought now he knows how it feels, the shoe is on the other foot. I wanted to sit beside Darla but after the big blow out that wasn’t possible. Dean told me that he had talked to the Snowbirds secretary Maranda and her husband was a civilian who worked in supply, and he had made arrangements to sit with them. I was exasperated, it was my work party and he was making the social decisions without asking me how I felt. But Dean made it clear that he’d only go if we sat with them. It’s not that I had anything against the couple, but I didn’t know them. At the dinner I didn’t have anything to say, I didn’t know what to talk about, and besides Dean and Maranda were busy talking about Snowbirds. I wondered how Maranda’s husband felt; the difference was that she stayed working in the office, she didn’t travel. Still he must be tired of all the Snowbirds gossip? Try as I did I couldn’t get a break. I inwardly groaned as the reality that I had one more year of this crap to go and I wasn’t sure if I’d make it.