Usually a Cadet unit might get the local Fire or Police Chief, or if they have an affiliate regiment an officer from there. Or a senior officer who is somehow connected to the unit (friend of someone on staff, alumnus of the unit, etc.). Or the mayor even.
He takes me to meet a Brigadier General complete with Aide de Camp festooned in gold aiguillettes. I put on my best smile and try to hide the quivering in my intestines. The General grew up in Stratford and had decided to attend the parade with his old Regiment. The husband of my Support Committee Secretary had been his Commanding Officer back in the day, and his ADC had been a young Bombardier under the Chairman. So when asked if he'd like to inspect some cadets, he said he'd love to.
Now you can't just invite anyone to be your RO.
For a Senior Officer, say the CO of the local Reserve regiment, the invitation has to come from my Detachment Commander.
For a General Officer the invitation has to come from MY Commanding Officer, the LCol in command of Central Region. Needless to say, everybody in the chain of command between me and the LCol, has to look at it. I get many questions. Of course some units have been cheeky and thought it'd be great to invite some Royal personage until they're told that they are the ones covering any expenses.
Fast forward seven months. Our ACR is fast approaching. Every unit has to have an ACR. Just like the inspections of 18th century regiments, the aim is to demonstrate that I have been spending the Queen's money wisely and actually training a Cadet Squadron. Due to some glitches in the training plan we ended up with only 4 nights to practice. And the cadets haven't had a lot of practice marching. Then just as we're getting on the bus for last weekend's trip, my SWO (Squadron Warrant Officer -i.e. the parade commander) hobbles up on crutches to tell me that he has injured his knee in school and can't do drill. So the next candidate now has one night to learn the position and his replacement also only has one night!
Lesser men would throw up their hands in dismay. Or maybe just throw up. But Per Ardua Ad Astra as they say.
It's the Big Day. The cadets have practiced and are breaking to touch up boots and have some lunch. I put on my tunic and go to move my car so the General has a parking spot (there are only 4 parking spaces in front of our Victorian era Armoury). I step out the door and there's the Brigadier General resplendent in red tabbed glory with his Divisional Sergeant Major looking down the street to see where the restaurant is. Fortunately it's only a block away.
"I see you've found a parking space, sir" I say, throwing him a 'Big Five'.
But the General and his Sergeant Major are both thoroughly alright chaps and put me at ease. So my next major hurdles are the small talk and not getting my croque monsieur all over my tunic. Fortunately I was paying attention during napkins class.
After lunch the Cadets impressed all with a fine turnout. The General was quite game to pose for photos and spent quite some time talking to a Flight Corporal at the field craft display. He even told me a funny story about one of my predecessors. I offered to buy them a beer after the parade, but they needed to stop at the chocolatier across the street and be home for dinner. Even Brigadier Generals and Divisional Sergeant Majors have orders.
|Presenting the Top Senior NCO Award|