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Corner Brook’s long-serving cadet commander Gerald Hartley retires from his lifelong passion

Lt.-Cmdr Gerald Hartley (right) of Corner Brook retired from a nearly 50-year association with the sea cadet movement during a special ceremony held in his honour at the Gallipoli Armoury in the city Friday evening.
Lt.-Cmdr Gerald Hartley (right) of Corner Brook retired from a nearly 50-year association with the sea cadet movement during a special ceremony held in his honour at the Gallipoli Armoury in the city Friday evening. - Contributed

Involvement in the cadet movement has the ability to build personal character and few know the truth of that more than Lt.-Cmdr Gerald Hartley.

The Corner Brook resident officially retired from the cadet movement during a formal ceremony at the Gallipoli Armoury Friday evening after a career that began when he was a young air cadet in 1966.

He is known mostly, however, for his commitment and dedication to the sea cadet movement, having joined the 184 Royal Canadian Sea Cadet Corps Curling in 1969.

He eventually moved up the ranks, remaining involved with the Corner Brook sea cadet corps long after his youth cadet career ended in 1972 and becoming its commanding officer in 1987.

He would spend 19 of the next 23 years as the commanding officer and has held various positions within the sea cadet community in Atlantic Canada since.

His most recent positions were as acting commanding officer of 3012 Lynx Army Cadet Corps in Lourdes, the area elemental advisor for all units in the Corner Brook area and the officer in charge of the West Coast Newfoundland Nautical Sail Training Site in Pasadena, a position he has held since 1997.

Hartley said the most rewarding aspect of his impressive sea cadet career has been watching the multitude of youth between the ages of 13 and 19 come up through the cadet system through the years.

He said every cadet has an opportunity to challenge themselves and achieve high standards in the realms of leadership, citizenship, responsibility and fitness through the training and experiences offered by cadets.

“The majority of them were successful in the careers they selected and I did my best to help provide a positive track for them to follow in their personal development,” Hartley said in an interview before Friday evening’s ceremony.

Of course, it has been a character-building experience for Hartley himself too.

“I went through a lot of the same programs,” he said. “I achieved a lot of things and that’s where my experiences came from. You just try to pass these on to the cadets, so they can decide on a positive track in their lives.”

The cadet life has been a family affair for the Hartleys. In addition to the steadfast support of his wife Suzan, all three of their daughters — Chrystal, Jennifer and Kelly — have become sea cadet officers with the 184 Curling Corps in Corner Brook.

“They’ve supported me over the years and they’ve done very well with the program themselves and are still involved with the corps now,” said Hartley. “I can only contribute my success to the support I’ve received, especially from my wife and the girls.”

While he is retiring from the cadets, Hartley isn’t done working. He has accepted a new job with the Canadian Forest Service division of National Resources Canada.

Lt.-Cmdr Gerald Hartley had an award-winning career with the cadets and earned more honours at his retirement ceremony Friday night. Here is a list of awards he’s earned in the past and honours he received on his final day:

- July 1993: Canada 125th Medal for his dedication to youth

- August 1994: the Canadian Forces Decoration Medal of Service

- November 2011: the Commander Maritime Forces Atlantic Bravo Zulu Certificate of Achievement Award

- November 2012: the Queen Elizabeth 2nd Diamond Jubilee Medal

Aug. 10, 2018:

- The Canadian Armed Forces Certificate of Service, commemorating 35 years of military service

- Environmental Certificate, given to members having served three years or more in a specific element of the Canadian Armed Forces — in this case the naval reserve environment. Lt.-Cmdr Hartley’s family also received an environmental certificate of appreciation.

- Presentation of a Canadian flag that flew at HMCS Acadia in Nova Scotia where Lt.-Cmdr Hartley spent many summers working. Retiring Canadian Armed Forces member with at least 25 years of service are often presented with flags that have flown at the member's unit/base in recognition of their lengthy service.

- Presentation of letters of appreciation from the prime minister, the premier of Newfoundland and Labrador and the mayor of Corner Brook

- Certificate of Family Recognition, presented to the members of Lt.-Cmdr Hartley’s family for supporting his career.

- The Navy League of Canada, a major sponsor of the sea cadet movement, presented Lt.-Cmdr Hartley with a pin and certificate to show appreciation and acknowledge his years dedicated to the cadet program.

Source: 184 Royal Canadian Sea Cadet Corps Curling

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