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Families take a look behind-the-scenes of a Canadian Armed Forces base

Canadian Army’s 4 Engineer Support Regiment held an open house at its main operating base

SLEMON PARK, P.E.I. -  Aside from taking pictures with the uniformed soldiers at their operating base for Exercise NIHILO SAPPER 2018 in Slemon Park, visitors could tour armoured vehicles, see specialized equipment come to life, and learn how to handle weapons during the open house, Saturday.

Captain Jamie Tobin, the public affairs officer with the armed forces, says the event is an opportunity to thank the public for supporting their training exercise.

“Islanders have been so welcoming, hospitable, and very friendly. Without the support of the community, the success of this exercise would not be possible. We open our doors to the base and set out all the equipment, so visitors can see what we use to conduct our business on P.E.I.,” he said.

On display were weapon systems, light armoured vehicles, and heavyweight champions of the battlefield, including bulldozers, forklift machinery, and a robot used for explosives, to name but a few.

“My favourite is the machine (Zoom Boom) that tilted side-to-side,” chimed Jake Peters, 8, from Kensington. The Zoom Boom, designed for outdoor use in rough terrain, is used around the base to lift and transport heavy equipment.

Abby Peters, Jake’s sibling, was most impressed by the lightness of the go-to C7A1 service rifle, which she carefully positioned on her shoulder with the guidance of a soldier from the Canadian Army’s 4 Engineer Support Regiment.

But for some, touring the grounds was a trip down memory lane.

“I used to be around here all the time when this was an air force base,” reminisced Gary Cheverie on the former airfield that was constructed by the Royal Canadian Air Force in the 1940’s and closed in 1991.

“But the kid’s father is in the Army Reserves, he’s a sergeant,” continued Cheverie, while he motioned to his family. "And my dad retired from the military on disability after more than 17-years of service. He was a medic, so I’m familiar with this environment, although there’s a lot of equipment I haven’t seen before.”

A remote-controlled, heavy-duty Explosive Ordnance Disposal observation robot, also called “tEODor” was among the interesting equipment on show.

“We send it down first to dispose of threats because you can always replace the equipment, but not a body. This robot had been used plenty of times in Afghanistan, and has been huge for safety and protection,” explained Corporal Robert Wight.

The event kicked off at 1 and wrapped up at 4:30 p.m.

Tobin surmised, “We just wanted to thank the residents on P.E.I. for their tremendous support and interest in what we do while bringing up our morale.”

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