Service members thank a veteran at CFB Halifax

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Navy News / December 29, 2020

by Lt(N) Melissa Kia

Art Gilbert is a Commissionaire who stands watch over Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Halifax’s well-known Juno Tower. Little do most know of the extraordinary history of this humble and soft-spoken man. A veteran, with over 30 years of service and notable tours in places like a divided Germany and Cyprus, and during the First Lebanon War, Art is a stalwart fixture of the residence.

When members preparing to deploy came to town to conduct their training in early November, Major (Maj) Angela Orme, a Legal Officer from CFB Edmonton, struck an unexpected friendship with the tower’s steadfast guardian. The deploying members from outside the Maritime bubble were confined to CFB Halifax’s Stadacona property for the duration of their preparations as part of COVID-19 safety regulations. This allowed Art to share sweeping tales of his service with the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal in times when four-year tours were the norm and when a one-hour turn over on an Israeli-controlled tarmac was the best preparation one could hope for on their next mission.

The long-serving veteran lived through periods where he deftly dodged roads dotted with uncovered manholes in the Golan Heights, and had to diplomatically work with multiple international partner police forces. Art was even the survivor of a poisonous spider bite while on patrol in British-held Cyprus.

Proud to serve, and ever-watchful, Art cherishes a rock painted with a poppy given to him by a youngster while at a Remembrance Day ceremony years ago.

To show their admiration and thanks, the deploying team formally presented a print of The Mural of Honour shortly before they departed, after having completed their training. The Mural of Honour is a piece of mosaic art which depicts portraits of soldiers, sailors and air personnel which adorns the entrance to the Military Museum in Calgary.

“I wanted Art to know that he matters, and that his service is remembered,” said Maj Orme of Olds, Alta. “Art’s motto is the Golden Rule – to treat people as you want to be treated. One thing Art asks is that people take a second look at their veterans – and not just on Remembrance Day. Because, as Art will tell you, you never know what they have done, and what they have been through.”