Canadian Forces soldier Matthew Jackson finds simple satisfaction in his work with artillery.
“They are very satisfying to fire,” he said. “Although it makes me sound like a child, they are very loud and very fun to fire.”
Master Bombardier Jackson, 26, is a soldier of the 7th Toronto Royal Canadian Artillery Regiment. This marks seven years of service. He was deployed to Afghanistan from September 2008 to May 2009. He worked at a Forward Operating Base in the desert. The FOB consisted of 150 people with each detachment cramming 12 men in a large but uncomfortable tent.
There was no internet and privacy was a privilege. Letters went by snail mail. Pictures of loved ones remained in the sleeping quarters. These pictures were precious.
Every day fresh food was served; then the day was spent with miscellaneous training and weapon maintenance. A sentry tower sat in an elevated location to spot any enemy approach.
Jackson’s interest in the army was sparked by his love for history, in fact, in Grade 9 during a class presentation. He was particularly interested in the workings of artillery.
“The more you read about it, the more interesting it seems,” he said. “You begin to know things you wouldn’t know… It puts what you hear in context 100 years later.”
Jackson was attending Carlton University when he joined the reserves. A promise he made to his parents when he joined was to never go overseas to Afghanistan. But when his superiors were looking for qualified soldiers to be stationed, he put his name down.
“But don’t worry; the spots are probably filled up. I probably won’t go. (Hearing) that made them relax,” Jackson told his parents.
Now home in Canada and at the Moss Park Armoury in Toronto, Jackson misses is the experience of being on call. He said that often no call would come in all day. Then at 2 a.m. while he was asleep he would hear someone say to get the guns ready.
“In Afghanistan, it was ‘Wake up. Go!’ The time you woke up to get ready for your job was less than a minute. You had to sleep near the guns,” Jackson said.
Jackson finds he enjoys the challenges that come along with his position.
“The reserves and the army as a whole, I believe it brings out the best in people,” he said.