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A 27 year-old Corporal Randy Rice serving with 2 Troop Combat Engineer in Petawawa in 1980.

Born into a military family, to serve his country was natural. Progressing from Army Cadet to Reserves to the Regular Force, he joined the Royal Canadian Engineers to learn the trade of Field Engineer enabling ground troops to function in a battlefield.

His orientation days of adjusting to orders, discipline and learning to work with others and the good feeling of being “on my own”, Randy shared that “you don’t have to be in a war to feel homesick” and this was mitigated by mail and telephone calls to family.

In 1971 Randy was deployed to Germany. As a member of a Field Section, he was nervous about being part of the Cold War but excited to learn his job in relation to the Soviet Union and East Germany. Comrade Randy did not engage in any war theatre but as a member of the Airborne he did witness fatalities due to training accidents under live fire and when the static (parachute) line broke.

In addition to being posted to Chilliwack, Petawawa, Trenton, Borden, and Ottawa, Randy had two deployments to Lahr, Germany and one to the United States. In Petawawa (1977-1982), Randy trained as a paratrooper and was a Combat Engineer member of the 2 CER (Combat Engineer Regiment) "jump Troop", part of the Canadian Airborne Regiment Battle Group. Comrade Randy trained with the German, British, American and Canadian Army and is the recipient of the Canadian Forces Decoration, the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal, and the Special Service Medal with NATO Bar. Comrade Randy has his Canadian and U.S. Army Parachute Wings.

When asked about supplies for the job, activities of daily living and the social aspect of military life, Comrade Randy reports that most of their equipment was outdated. They depended on ‘gut feelings’ during night jumping exercises. Aside from outdoor sports, the Mess Hall was their social focal point which also offered ample home-cooked meals.

Comrade Randy retired to pursue civilian life and rekindle his passion of landscape painting. He continues with early military relationships and is involved with Barrie’s Canadian Airborne Forces Association. As our Service Officer he has already assisted twenty plus members with Veteran issues.

Bringing this interview home to Branch 270, Comrade Randy would like to see broader advertising to recruit Legion members. He is proud that our Branch is the central location for our community activities and concluded the interview with these comments: “To be in service of Canada helped define me. Forty-two years…what an adventure!”

We thank you for your service.

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