On 3 May 2020, 2 CMBG HQ & Sig Sqn (2 Sigs) held a small and video recorded ceremony to remember the seven gallant soldiers from 2 Sigs and the Royal Canadian Regiment who tragically perished on the evening of 8 May 1968 in the service of their country. The ceremony was conducted while respecting the proper COVID-19 social distancing protocols. The Commanding Officer of 2 Sigs, Lieutenant-Colonel Perron and the Regimental Sergeant Major, Chief Warrant Officer Tanner, laid a wreath at the newly refurbished cairn near the Memorial Park to honour the seven jumpers who served and sacrificed in days gone by. For 52 years, survivors, family, friends, retired and serving Canadian Armed Forces members have gathered to commemorate those who lost their lives in what is known as the Fallen Jumpers memorial service.
On 8 May 1968, the airborne soldiers were participating in an exercise called “Ex NEW SHAKEDOWN” over the Petawawa training area. Unfavourable weather resulted in all paratroopers being blown off course from their desired drop zone on the Mattawa plains. Only four paratroopers landed safely on the ground. The others ended up in the Ottawa River just as the sun was going down. Seven men died tragically that evening: Master Warrant Officer Reginald Riddell, Warrant Officer Michael McDonnell, Cpl Hugh Fields, Cpl Bob Knight, Cpl Dennis Clements, Cpl Jim Misener, and Cpl Bruce Chiswell.
8 May 1968 will remain an important date for which soldiers from the Royal Canadian Regiment and 2 Sigs will continue to remember. Once the restrictions due to COVID-19 are lifted, the memorial cairn in its new location will provide an opportunity for the community to continue to teach soldiers, family members, daughters and sons to never forget the sacrifice of the seven gallant paratroopers.
Capt Alec Edwards