Vets’ memories surface in times of remembrance

Tributes, parades planned for Remembrance Day in Esquimalt, Victoria

For years, Doug Grant’s memories of one of his most danger-filled missions with the Royal Canadian Navy remained a secret, denied for the longest time by the Canadian government.

The retired chief petty officer sailed with HMCS Sioux off the coast of Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, when the U.S. intercepted Cuba-bound Russian ballistic missiles.

“At one point we had 127 Russian trawlers in the water and with those trawlers there were submarines. We could see the submarines all over our radar,” said Grant, manager of the Royal Canadian Legion’s Esquimalt Dockyard branch. “We kept sailing by the coast and we had two 4.7-inch guns and they had missiles. We were scared to death.”

While emceeing one of two Remembrance Day events planned for Esquimalt on Friday (Nov. 11), Grant will remember those he sailed with, as well as heroes he never met.

“We need to remember (our veterans) and all that they’ve done for us,” he said.

A service of remembrance is also planned for Victoria on Friday.

Between 4,000 and 6,000 people are expected to gather at the cenotaph on the legislature grounds for the 10:45 a.m. start.

About 150 people – CFB Esquimalt personnel, the Naden Band, reservists and the Arion Male Voice Choir – will begin parading from the Homecoming statue at Ship’s Point at 10:30 a.m.

Following the tribute, Lt.-Gov. Steven Point and Pacific fleet commander, Commodore Peter Ellis, will review the parade in front of the Fairmont Empress Hotel.

Esquimalt’s first ceremony of the day happens at God’s Acre veterans cemetery, off Colville Road, at 9:30 a.m.

Then, at 10:30 a.m., veterans, military members, legion branch members, Girl Guides, Scouts, Navy League youth, cadets and a segment of the Naden Band will parade to the Memorial Park cenotaph on Esquimalt Road.

Dignitaries, including CFB Esquimalt commander, navy Capt. Craig Baines, will gather with hundreds of spectators for an 11 a.m. start. The public is invited back to the legion after the event.

“I’m so proud of all of our veterans … and all they have accomplished in these wars and conflicts,” Grant said.