A bloodline of service in the Canadian Army Reserve

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Article / January 15, 2019 / Project number: 18-0446

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By Corporal Cody Misner, 31 Canadian Brigade Group Public Affairs & 4th Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment

Hamilton, Ontario — For most soldiers, deciding to serve in the military is a huge decision. For one family in Hamilton, Ontario, military service appears to be hereditary, with two sons following their father into the Canadian Army Reserve.

The Father: Warrant Officer Steven Gardiner, Mobile Support Equipment Operator

Warrant Officer Steven Gardiner was born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1969 and, after a period of living in Botswana, Africa, moved to Hamilton, Ontario.

In 1988, when he was just 18 years of age, a friend from high school encouraged him to join 23 Service Battalion, the predecessor of today’s 31 Service Battalion (31 Svc Bn), a Reserve unit within the Canadian Army’s 31 Canadian Brigade Group. The battalion is a unique element of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) whose task is to augment Canada’s Regular Force military by providing Combat Service Support soldiers.

WO Gardiner became a Mobile Support Equipment Operator, a trade which includes duties related to driving, operating and performing operator’s maintenance on a variety of vehicles.

By 1989, he was in Lahr, Germany and was present when East and West Germany reunited in the ruins of the Berlin Wall.

WO Gardiner also deployed to Afghanistan in 2007 and again in 2010, completing a lengthy operational history of active service that earned him experience, recognition and accompanying promotions up the ranks.

Since then, WO Gardiner has stayed active with his unit and within the Hamilton community, spending his free time giving back with events like “Santa in Combats,” alongside his family – which was growing concurrently with his deployments and promotions.

Son #1: Master Corporal Samuel Gardiner, Supply Technician

In 1993, WO Gardiner had a son, now Master Corporal Samuel Gardiner. Following in his father’s footsteps, MCpl Gardiner joined the CAF at age 17 while still attending high school. He signed up with his dad’s unit, 31 Svc Bn in Hamilton as a Supply Technician in January of 2011.

Although he joined looking to gain valuable professional and personal experience for a planned career in policing, the younger Gardiner was surprised to find how passionate he became about the military lifestyle.

MCpl Gardiner, who recently completed his Sergeant’s course, continues to contribute to his unit’s betterment by instructing on Reserve Basic Military Qualification courses, and is determined to maintain the Canadian Army’s standards for future generations; just like his father.

Son #2: Private Andrew Gardiner, Infantry soldier and musician

The father-son duo welcomed the idea when the youngest of their family decided to join the Army Reserve as well.

The latest Gardiner to don the uniform was Private Andrew Gardiner. Pte Gardiner completed his Infantry training in July of 2018 and joined Hamilton’s Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada (Princess Louise’s), a light infantry regiment with a long and storied history.

“I joined the Infantry because I already had a strong involvement with the Argyll’s through the cadets, and through the regimental pipes and drums as a civilian member,” he said when asked why he joined another unit instead of following his older brother and father into 31 Svc Bn.

Service to country and community a family tradition

With a father and his two sons all serving in the Canadian Army Reserve, the Gardiner family’s devotion to their country, and their community, shines through. WO Gardiner recently reflected on how his family views their military service.

“As a family that has always served the communities they lived in, our relatives are definitely very proud of our service,” he said.

WO Gardiner has announced that he will retire in 2019, but his link to the Army Reserve in Hamilton will live on through his sons.

For MCpl Gardiner, the pride he finds in his family’s history with the Army means a lot.

“It feels incredible to continue my family’s tradition of service, specifically to the country of Canada, which has given us a peaceful home and the freedoms we enjoy.”

That sense of pride in service will continue in what clearly has become a family tradition.

“I was extremely proud of my little brother joining,” he added, “and I look forward to the many years of service we both have ahead of us.”

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