By Dianne Cornish
If he hadn’t joined the Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps in Burlington almost six years ago, Officer Cadet David Brennan wouldn’t have had the opportunities to reach out and help others in the community that being a cadet afforded him.
The 18-year-old Waterdown youth, who was one of four men presented with the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal by Burlington mayor Rick Goldring last Tuesday, said he was “proud and excited” to receive the honour.
The first-year McMaster University history student and son of Terry and Domenica Brennan said it was his involvement with the cadet program that opened doors to volunteerism for him, making it possible for him to be nominated for the Jubilee medal.
“I’m just thankful to have been given all the opportunities in the last five years to receive something like this,” he said this week.
Capt. Philip Harris, commanding officer of the Burlington Army Cadets, nominated Brennan for the award. “Officer Cadet Brennan has volunteered hundreds of hours towards our local (Burlington) Legion, assisting in selling poppies, hosting dinners for the veterans and working on a number of fundraising activities,” Capt. Harris wrote in his nominating letter.
Describing him as “a tireless volunteer with the Cadet program (who has) inspired and motivated both his peers and subordinates within the program,” the CO said Brennan served as captain on five local cadet teams, including flag party, shooting team, rifle drill team, orientating team and drill team. He also volunteered many hours with younger cadets, helping them overcome different challenges.
Recently sworn into the military with the rank of Officer Cadet, Brennan is “a natural leader,” Capt. Harris wrote, noting that this past September, he was one of a limited number of Canadians selected to participate in an international paratrooper exchange program, representing the Canadian Forces Airborne and the Royal Canadian Army Cadets, after completing his Canadian Forces basic parachutist course in 2011.
Also, in September of last year, he won further distinction when he received the gold Duke of Edinburgh pin, presented to him during a ceremony in Ottawa by Prince Edward, the Earl of Wessex.
Brennan said he owes his leadership abilities to the cadet corps. When he graduates from university three years from now, he will transfer into a full-time position with the Canadian Armed Forces. His membership in the cadet program ended when he was sworn into the military, but his younger brother, Alexander, is following in his footsteps. He, too, has taken on leadership and mentorship roles, with the corps.
The brothers became members of the group after their dad told them that a coworker’s children belonged to the corps and found the experience to be very positive. Domenica Brennan said her sons travelled to Burlington to participate because there isn’t a Flamborough corps. Their achievements have sparked an interest in others in the Waterdown area, she said, estimating that about 10 youths have joined the group in recent years.
The Brennans believe the corps has had a positive influence on their sons. Youth interested in learning more about the program, offered at 3230 Fairview Street in Burlington, can call 905-681-3923.