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Comox teen completes grueling army course in Trenton

James Vernon prepares to heave his main and reserve chutes over his shoulder prior to running off the drop zone (walking is not allowed) after completing a wet second parachute descent. Photo courtesy Cadet Training Centre, Trenton

Submitted by 1726 Army Cadet Corps

Special to the Record

While many Comox Valley 17-year-olds spent their summer lounging on the beach or working a summer job, James Vernon was sweating through intense physical workouts, learning new skills and eventually launching himself out of an airplane at over 1,000 ft.

Vernon is a Highland Senior Secondary student about to enter Grade 12 and a cadet master warrant officer in the Comox-based Canadian Scottish Regiment Cadet Corps. He, along with 50 other top army cadets from across Canada, was selected to attend the Canadian Army’s Basic Parachutist Course conducted by the Canadian Army Advanced Warfare Centre in Trenton, Ont. Of the 50 who were selected to attend, 38 graduated earning the right to wear the prestigious parachute wings badge on their uniforms.

To be eligible, potential candidates had to achieved the highest level of training in the cadet program. After applying, they had to pass trough a five-day regional selection phase. Only 50 army cadets get selected to attend the course. This year B.C. sent five.

The course is the exact same one used to qualify soldiers from the regular and primary Reserve Forces – with one exception; it’s two weeks longer. Cadet students undergo a rigorous physical training phase prior to commencement of the three-week army course.

The parachute course consists of two weeks of ground training and a week of parachuting. To qualify, students must complete five parachute descents with one being at night. First jump is ‘bare’ without equipment while each successive jump is made with an increasing gear load. By the third jump students are burdened with a full rucksack, rifle and snowshoes.

The basic parachutist course is the only qualification a cadet can earn that transfers directly over to military service if the cadet chooses to enrol in the CAF.

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