This week the Canadian frigate, HMCS WINNIPEG returned to Esquimalt after a historic eight month deployment.
During this time the ship and the 250 men and women of her ships’ company participated in two operations, Op CARRIBBE and Op REASURANCE. She also participated in three exercises, Ex TRIDENT JUNCTURE, Ex JOINT WARRIOR and Ex NORTHERN COAST. She steamed almost 54,000 nautical miles and circumnavigated the globe.
This is a huge success for the Royal Canadian Navy and the sailors who served in WINNIPEG during this deployment.
Many media chose for the primary photo to commemorate this incredible accomplishment, a photo of a sailor kissing his partner pier side when WINNIPEG arrived home. “The first kiss,” has become a tradition in the RCN and rightfully so. Families have been separated for many months, our sailors have volunteered to serve nation above family.
What made this kiss so special, it was the first kiss, between same sex partners.
The final moments of WINNIPEG’s deployment have become historical too. In the past, members of the military were discharged for their sexuality. I remember a courts martial of a young female at CFB KINGSTON in the early 1980’s because she was a lesbian.
Those days of darkness were not limited to the Canadian Armed Forces, but society as a whole. While on a tour of the US Navy base in Norfolk in the late 1970’s, we were shown a preview of a recruiting commercial about to air on national television. It was a fast paced overview of the exciting life of a sailor set to a new song written by the Village People, titled “In the Navy.” Before the commercial aired, it was revealed that the band members were gay and the commercial was never seen.
I have never been a proponent of excluding or including someone based on any form of minority categorizing. In today’s world, we only need to ask one question. Is this person capable of the task at hand. A simple question with a simple yes or no answer. If we engage and employ the best people for the job, then all other questions of race, gender, orientation, etc. are nullified.
In Canada, our sailors and members of the Armed Forces are the best. Highly professional, well trained and dedicated, they are respected around the world.
In closing, Master Seaman Legare and the entire ship’s company of HMCS WINNIPEG, we are proud of you and all your accomplishments during this historical deployment. Now is the time for each of you to take comfort in the arms of your loving families, for they too have sacrificed alongside you.
BROVO ZULU, you have upheld the finest traditions of the Royal Canadian Navy, WELCOME HOME!
Photos courtesy of the National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces Website