by: Lt(N) Terri-Leigh Saunders, 1596 Royal Highland Fusiliers of Canada RCACC, Kitchener, Ontario
Humble…the word itself seems quiet and reserved when it rolls off your tongue. In this case, it perfectly describes two quiet and reserved young men being hailed as heroes; one of whom is the most recent recipient of the Cadet Medal of Bravery.
On the afternoon of July 1, 2017, Master Warrant Officer William Bowen and long-time friend, Sidney Gelbard, had just finished a day of boating on Conestoga Lake when William’s father, Aaron Bowen, pointed out a man who appeared to be in distress.
After observing for a few brief moments, it became clear that he was in fact in trouble and the two young men jumped into action. “It was like watching something out of a movie, I couldn’t possibly have seen anything more heroic” Mr. Bowen said, when speaking about the moment his son and Sidney jumped into the water and swam out to the man. William’s mother, Meghan Bowen was also proud stating that she “wasn’t surprised by his actions…I was in awe of what he did.” The man in the water, naturally scared, found himself grabbing for Sidney, making the rescue that much harder. Eventually they were able to help calm the man down, despite the fact that they did not speak the same language, and swim to safety where they did their best to provide first aid treatment.
The nomination for the Cadet Medal of Bravery made it to the desk of Brigadier General K. Woiden, Commander of the National Cadet and Junior Canadian Rangers Support Group for final approval. Having been presented to only 18 cadets since its inception in 1948, BGen Woiden was pleased to make the formal presentation at the Annual Ceremonial Review for 1596 Royal Highland Fusiliers of Canada Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps in Kitchener, Ontario this past June. The actions of MWO Bowen and Mr. Gelbard “were nothing short of exemplary and a direct result of some of the skills our cadets develop throughout the course of their careers” said Woiden.
Despite the fact that this event took place during his free time, the “skills learned through the cadet program without a doubt played a role in the behaviour of our sons that day” said Claude Gelbard, Sidney’s father. A former CIC Officer himself, he echoed the sentiments of the Bowen’s when he said “this heroic moment embodies everything about the cadet program and the transferable skills our youth gain.”
The 18-year-old teen from Kitchener, Ontario is grateful for the time that he has spent in the army cadet program. As part of his final chapter, MWO Bowen will be attending the cadet serial of the Canadian Forces Basic Parachute Course this summer in Trenton. Known for being possibly the most physically and mentally challenging course offered to army cadets, he is more than ready and willing to take on the challenge. In the fall he will be attending Conestoga College of Applied Arts and Technology for Pre-Health and Paramedic, with the hopes of one day becoming a full-time Medic in the Canadian Armed Forces.
MWO Bowen is fantastic young man with a bright future ahead of him. It’s not hard to see why he chose to do what he did on that summer day back in July 2017, but if you ask him he will tell you in his ever-so-humble way, “I didn’t do anything exceptional that day, I just did what needed to be done!”