AMHERST – The leap from Cadets to the Canadian Armed Forces Reserves can be tough. Amherst’s Johnathan Murray will find out how tough this summer.
Murray was recently sworn in as a Reservist and will travel to CFB Aldershot this summer to undergo eight weeks of intensive training.
“I’m going to go to the gym and start getting fit so I can overcome the obstacles that are waiting for me,” said Murray, an 18-year-old, Grade-12 student at ARHS. Originally from New Brunswick, Murray moved to Amherst when he was 12-years-old and immediately joined the 272 Nova Scotia Highlanders Army Cadet Corps in Amherst.
“I’ve loved the military for as long as I can remember. I want to be in the regular forces doing something I love,” he said. “I hope to have a career in the military and take a trade, a life-skill I can apply when I get out of the military.”
Capt. Glenn Darragh has been Murray’s cadet instructor since he first walked through the doors at the Amherst Armouries six years ago.
“We always set out to inspire the cadets but he’s one of the cadets who has inspired us,” said Darragh. “The confidence in this young man today is great compared to what he was when he came in at 12-years-old. He’s come into his own and become a great leader within this program.”
Murray says cadets has taught him leadership and citizenship skills.
“What stood out for me was mostly the stuff we’ve done in the community over the past few years like bagging groceries and helping the food bank,” said Murray. “And cadets taught me how to teach and how to be an instructor, it’s taught me loyalty and dedication, and it’s also taught me that when you put your mind to something, you do it.”
Murray’s friend, 18-year-old Daniel Musseau of Amherst, made the jump from the 272 Army Cadet Corp to the reserves last summer when he was 17-years-old.
He started with about 60 other Reservist trainees and finished among a group of about 20.
He has talked to Murray about reserve training, and told him it’s no joke
“I told him it’s the hardest thing he’s going to do in his life,” said Musseau. “And I told him to hold his head high, and to have his buddies back and he’ll have yours.”
Musseau said the training is demanding and everything has to always be perfect; your locker, your boots, your bed, your equipment, and your rifle.
“Wherever you go, your rifle goes. You to sleep with your rifle, you go to the bathroom with your rifle, you take your rifle to go get a glass of water,” said Musseau.
He says it easy to think about quitting.
“You have bad days. You wake up and say, ‘No, I can’t do this,’” said Musseau. “You have a bunch of bad voices inside your head telling you to quit, it’s not worth it, drop out.”
He says most people quit because of homesickness, and it almost happened to him.
“I missed home, I missed my dogs,” said Musseau. “I missed little things that you wouldn’t expect you’d miss, like cutting the grass, or sleeping in, or petting your dog, or being able to get a coffee when you please.”
He says the training builds a brotherhood.
“It’s more than a friendship. It’s a family.”
Musseau spent almost every weekend from September 2017 to February 2018 in Halifax learning how to drive, among other vehicles, 10-ton military trucks. He is now training for six months in Gagetown where will get further training in infantry, tactics, artillery, military engineering, and armoured vehicle training at the Combat Training Centre.
He wishes Murray the best of luck this summer, adding that rising through the ranks at cadets builds discipline, but reminds Murray that in the Reserves he’ll be back at square one.
“Any kid growing up who wants to be in the army I would definitely recommend cadets. Like anything, it’s what you make out of it,” said Musseau. “The Reserves is the same. It’s what you make of it but, at the same time, it is very difficult. What I would say to Murray is work hard, have fun, and not take anything personal.”
The 272 Nova Scotia Highlanders Army Cadet Corps trains every Monday night from 6:30 to 9 p.m.
Any youth who would like to try it out are more than welcome to come out on any Monday night.