Lady's and Gentlemen, For Widest possible distribution. The attached article from Esprit de Corps magazine is a tribute to One of our own- Billy Willbond. ICROSS Canada Founder and a Great Canadian !
This Seasons CAV/VAC AGM in Summerside PEI is Historic in many ways . Every National AGM from our first to now have Combined our CAV Energies alongside ICROSS Fundraising. Our Canadian Forces prove every day that 'Charity begins at Home but finishes wherever need is found '. Not a Single mission our Military has tackled has missed the needs found in the community 'next door' here in Canada- or the 'village next door ' when we 're overseas!
Our CAV/VAC Fundraising in the name of ICROSS has helped our Organization and Billys to Save countless lives in Africa , Madagascar , Haiti and many of the worlds poorest troubled places . Our purchase of a Blood Analysis machine and an Xray machine through ICROSS in Malawi and Kigali Africa have saved, and Continue to save lives in that 80% HIV infected region!
In addition, with Billys guidance CAV funds have provided an entire community in Kenya with fresh water through a new well , pasture and goats and gardens allowing dozens of woman the freedom to Live in peace and Security!
Our CAV Family has been recognized with "ICROSS Humanitarian of the Year Awards " twice for our Lifesaving support to the Worlds poorest of the poor. A distinct Honour recognized World wide- an Honour no other Riding Veteran based organization has received.
We Take Great Pride in our Association, Direct Support and Respect of Our CAV /VAC Comrade Billy Willbond !! This summer in PEI as our members, Formation Exec 's and National Hq staff gather, due to serious health issues- Billy will not be by our sides , as he has for the last 6 years, Lew 'Mac' MacKenzie for 3 years before him- But we Will Keep Billy Willbond and ICROSS in our Thoughts as Always !
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The CAV/ VAC
Ive been riding steadily northeast towards Ottawa, tommorows National Afghanistan 'Day of Honour' ceremonys just hours away from taking place there and across Canada..
I rode my bike to 8 Wing Trenton April of 2002 as the repatriation of our Afghan missions first casualtys took place from the horror of April 17's evening 'Friendly Fire' incident at Tarnac Farm...
It was my Honour, My Duty To stand by the side of my Old Unit, 3 PPCLI as those killed at Tarnac, just outside of Kandahar Afghanistan came home - Marc Leger, Ainsworth Dyer, Richard Green and Nathan Smith of 'Jump Company', the familys of our Fallen at our sides as those who's lives ended or where changed forever came back to them.. Wounded were Lorne Ford, Rene Paquette, Brett Perry, Norman Link, Brian Decaire, Curtis Hollister, Stan Clark, and Shane Brennan..
Gathered inside the Hanger Old Soldiers and new whispered greetings as comrades back from theatre and those of us united in mourning did our best to support the Familys of Everyone suffering from the tragedy. As the Mission in Afghanistan had clearly brought our Forces back into harms way, the future bore a heavy darkness with the knowledge that more danger lay ahead. Brother after brother of the Patricia Battlegroup in hushed tones told me of that range night terror out at Tarnac, as well of the scope of the threat our forces faced in Afghanistans operations to come..
We All new instinctively that the Future held more Loss and Tragedy.
Later that week in the Ottawa Valley II again witnessed thousands of citizens gathering in the Pembroke Hockey arena pledging to 'Never Forget', as a chill went through me praying that the same expressions of Support would be the possible for anyone else Killed or wounded on this Afghan mission- I asked myself, 'Would the same outpouring of Love and Support be Given to Every future Casualty no matter how long the mission?'.
I and the Family's and Comrades of those who serve, had nothing to fear.
We had no idea then that the Dark days, months and years ahead would carry 158 of our Heroes away, or that hundreds would be wounded, thousands affected forever by the Mission in Support of the Afghan people. And Yet- Canada stood Strong, and our CAV/VAC family that was born in these dark days in direct outreach support of our military and its familys -would Set an incredible High Standard in 'Ongoing Service'!!
I myself attended 150 repatriations , 75 at 8 Wing Trenton and 75 in front of the Coroners office in Toronto. My plea in our 2003 founding year to our 'new' CAV family to stand beside me or in my place as I rode for the CAV nationwide representing our organization, was answered Proudly by the hundreds of 'CAV/VAC' to come!! Ive also had the incredible Honour of riding by your sides hundreds of times down the 'Highway of Heroes', even watching Proudly as our CAV organizations Heartfelt Provincial 'Highway of Heroes' trans Canada highway project became a National Success from sea to sea !
You of the 'CAV/VAC' have humbled me and Every citizen, especially those who suffer from the pain of our Afghan service non stop from Newfoundland to British Columbia and All points in between - as YOU reached out to our Nations Heroes families and friends, supporting or creating Hundreds of Events and positive energys in tribute to the Legacy of the Heroes of this now completed Mission.
The debt I owe our CAV/VAC family for that ongoing service, is a debt Ive pledged my remaining life, to repay.
Not a single Repatriation was missed by our CAV family !!
In fact Hundreds of times Nation Wide YOU Stood Tall and Proud as CAV- Not to 'be seen' but to witness and Support the familys and Comrades of our casualtys from the Afghanistan Mission!!
Tommorow, in our Nations Capital, Provincial capitals, Citys and towns, villiages or at Cenataphs Nation wide- As this National Day of Honour takes place remembering the sacrifices of our Canadian Familys who gave Everything for the Afghan people, Remember Always My Pride in ALL of YOU!!
Our Entire Nation is PROUD of ALL of YOU!!!!
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As cofounder of the CAV/VAC ‘Canadian Army Veterans’-‘Vete’ran Arme’e’ Canadienne’ Motorcycle Units, it has been my Pleasure and Honour to serve as National President for 10 years now. Since the beginning Â I was responsible for our Constitution and Identity. On Purpose I shaped the CAV/VAC not solely as a Veterans organization, but’ Veteran based’-a riding family with it’s core made up of Veterans French and English, riding any brand of motorcycle. Further, We are Not a 'Motorcycle Club' we are a Riding Club, rather than 'Chapters' I chose to recognize ‘Units’ commemoratingÂ Canadian Military Battle Honour’s- Keeping alive the Sacrifices of our Ancestors, our present day generation and pledging as well to Honour All Future Service to our Nation!
As a Founder , my greatest pride is not only in ensuring we do everything possible to commemorate the Sacrifices of the past , present and future of our Military, but crucially- that our CAV/VAC Organization Â join’s Veteran with Veteran Supporter.
Â -The ‘’Veteran’’, those citizens who are Military, Canadian Ranger Â or RCMP Qualified having dedicated themselves to Â the service of our Nation , nowÂ assisted to great success with continuing service at home,Â
-with our ‘’Veteran Supporters’’ , they with a lifetime of lessons learned in the community’s we now serve on motorcycles-they now united with our Veteran’s, those Â who’ve always had our ‘Back’- now Proudly riding by our sides-including our entire family, children included!
Incredible resources- both Veteran and Veteran Supporter, united in achieving our Mission, ‘’Ride and Have Fun While Helping Others’’-with ‘Strength and Honour’ as our Motto , using motorcycles as vehicles of outreach assuring a memorable successful adventure.
At this time we proudly ride in over 90 cities across Canada-with great pride in having focused fund raising energy’s in hundreds of ways, Our CAV/VAC Family partnering with those on the same path collectively raising millions of dollars-toward well over 250 different Charitable energy’s throughout our Â first decade!
Reflecting our Veteran based organization’s outreach towards recognition of our military’s service and sacrifice we also have taken on nation wide thousands of hours of Veteran support including community activities as varied as Fund raising for Veteran Home’s such as Tony Stacey Center in Scarborough, Canada’s only facility that has as its business plan the priority ofÂ keeping Â Veteran and Spouse together till death-or Hospital Veteran Wing Â CAV/VAC Energies in supporting Â many hospices like Park wood Hospital in London Ontario, there in the name of Trooper Mark Wilson, a soldier who fell in Afghanistan,who’s memory is kept alive by our CAV Family-as well as his Mom and Dad, both also Proud CAV Member’s.
From individual Veteran Shut in's who haveÂ benefitedÂ from wheel chair ramps Â made by volunteer CAV Labour- right up to many Veteran patients having a safe healing garden environment, for those who suffer from Dementia as in St Johns Newfoundland’s ‘Dr Leonard Miller Centre’s Caribou Memorial Pavilion’ - CAV/VAC Members have made a difference in countless ways..
Recently it was my honour, at our Nations Ottawa War Museum to recognize with Honorary CAV Cresting a Member who has walked with his Service dog from Halifax to Ottawa making our fellow citizens aware of the healing energy a trained PTSD Dog gives it’s warrior buddy- as well as announcing there a CAV/VAC 5 year plan with the assistance of powerful allies’ to raise tens of thousands of dollars through National celebrity golf tournaments to purchase many service dog’s for our heroes. Can our CAV Family think ‘outside the box’? Absolutely
We have attended, in Direct support of the family’s and comrades of the Afghanistan mission every single repatriation of the fallen from that conflict, including ongoing heartfelt Silver Cross family support across Canada- Our CAV/VAC Pledge to Never Forget a family’s gift of life in respect of a far away nations freedom. It is our CAV/VAC Honour to count among us Family members of our Fallen, their sacrifice Honoured with unique Silver Cross Family cresting as well as countless support energy’s to respect our fallen and our Military’s wounded through ‘Soldier On’ , Wounded Warrior’ and similar Â programs, Â allowing us to give back to those who’ve given so much! This focus of proud heartfelt recognition we pledge for Every Military mission of the Past, Present and Future!
Â In the past 10 years I have witnessed well over 1000 positive Motorcycle events from coast to coast to coast, Proud CAV Comrades by my side showcasing the regions that host gatherings of our riders. My immense pride of Your Victory’s has been secured while crossing Canada 14 times myself. With well over a million km’s experience now, each new day-with every turn of my front tire bringing me to yet another powerful CAV/VAC experience!
Â It would take 10 years to describe the many varied historic moments in the past decade Ive seen that show the proof of our outreach success,Â
-from witnessing the first provincial designation of a National ‘Highway of Heroes’- beginning in British Columbia and soon succeeding nationwide -a CAV/VAC initiative to recognize Heroism by All citizens along the entire route of our Trans Canada Highway ,
-also including riding in front of thousands of motorcyclists from ‘Atlanticade’, the great motorcycle festivalÂ on Canada’s east coast carrying in my sidecar our own CAV Member Harry Watt’s, he a World War 2 Combat despatch rider- as we rode from PEI to New Brunswick and back on Confederation BridgeÂ ,Â
-or proudly including Â riding at the head of thousands of motorcycles down the Ontario Highway of Heroes at the annual ‘’Heroes Highway Ride’’ Event, with our Own National CAV/VAC Silver Cross family coordinator Darlene Cushman in the sidecar, her son Darryl Casswell a CAV Member killed by IED in PanjwaiÂ Afghanistan. These a fraction of the countless memorys gathered at your sides!
As I announced at our Spring AGM in Moncton New Brunswich, this is my last season as your National President. At our Summer AGM in Red Deer Alberta I introduced incoming National President ‘Grizzly’ Earle Eastman , National Vice President ‘Maddawg’ Derrick McClinchey, who alongside ‘Buddha’ Ernie Hall will assume leadership of the CAV/VAC Family, allowing my energy’s to be focused fully onto the Chief Executive Officer role of our newlyÂ Incorporated Not for Profit CAV/VAC Organization
Our internationally known identity is that of a ‘CAV/VAC Crest’ bearing the image of a Despatch rider powering up and out of the ‘Devils Punchbowl’ during WW2. Military riders carried a simple message- Exactly the message our CAV/VAC Organization membership repeat every day- that comrades sharing a riders dangers and thrills, ‘powering up and out of Any challenge’ united with those who ride at our side -proving that together we can defeat any obstacle in our path as we support our Nations military, our Community and its citizens !
I Have been humbled literally thousands of times as Our Beloved CAV/VAC Family has followed its Mission to ‘Ride and Have Fun While Helping Others’, using ‘’Strength and Honour’’ as our Motto- The Strength to get through Every Day, and the Honour to do so the best way possible!
Â I with CoFounder Doc Lebrun, alongside our entire membership take great pleasure and pride as the Next decade of our CAV history roars straight ahead- Our Canadian Veteran based riding family taking on old and new challenges!Â
Veteran and Supporter together, our family’s at our sides as we continue our solemn pledge to Never Forget the Sacrifices of our Nations military.
Hard won freedoms that we ALL Enjoy every time we swing our leg over the saddle and support each other, our community and Nation. The CAV/VAC, In my and our Nations opinion one of our Country’s greatest ongoing service organization’s with a clear powerful past and a Fantastic Future!!