CAF Story: MCpl Bastille survived a six-hour dive

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In theatre the combat diver is the first to be sent to the front in order to clear any explosive devices like underwater mines.

We’re sent to clear the way. So risk is part of the trade.

But the skills that the guys get, the training they receive, they’re ready—we’re all ready for that. We are trained, we are confident in our skills to accomplish dangerous tasks.

My name is Marc-André Bastille. I’m a master corporal in 5th Combat Engineer Regiment, and I’m a combat diver for the combat engineers.

It’s one of the toughest trades in the Canadian Army, both physically and mentally.

We spent six hours in the water observing, just looking at all the obstacles that were on the banks. Making sure that everything was feasible, for any enemy forces that might come.

After six hours there, what happened was, we stayed so long in the water that the cold had come in the night, so that when we left the water, all our equipment had completely frozen, and we had to get to an extraction that was five kilometres away.

Being in discomfort, in the water, not knowing if I’m going to drown or not. You know, I wasn’t the most confident guy in the water before. I’m more confident now, with diving experience. But before that I was not the most comfortable guy. The only thing that kept me in the water was the will to stay there, so…

Since I was young, I was always interested in jobs with more momentum, that were more physical. Our work, what we do really, is to blow up obstacles to make sure that the shoreline is clear in order to bring friendly elements ashore. If we make an extensive beachhead, we must be sure that the boats can return for the prescribed hour. Then afterwards, it’s about ensuring that all the mobility, all the roads for the force that follows, are passable.

Certainly, at the family level, sometimes there are repercussions. Looking at the present, I have a child, I have a wife, and sometimes they don’t see me often because I get involved in my work.

It really takes a united family to handle that well. I know that my wife supports me 100 percent in what I do. She approves of what I do, she is very proud of what I do.

That’s what makes us always want to enhance our work, to do it even better, because we do it for them. We do this for everyone, for everyone in our country.

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