The Halifax Rifles will march again, and 17-year-old Justin Plante, the first new recruit to sign up for the historic army reserve unit, can’t wait to lace up his boots.
The Eastern Passage boy was enrolled into the regiment at an event full of pomp and circumstance Sunday at the Halifax Armoury on Cunard Street, held to recognize the return to service of the Halifax Rifles, which began as a volunteer battalion in 1860 but became inactive by 1965.
“There are two things this young man is going to learn off the bat: personal grooming and good posture,” Maj. James Price, 72, of Bridgetown quipped following the formal ceremony. “He’s already learned to shine his boots . . . so he’s off to a good start.”
On a more serious note, the member of the Halifax Rifles Armoury Association said the young man is “making history.”
“I guess I should feel important, but right now I’m hungry,” the teenager said before diving into some finger foods. But Justin admitted that being a part of the Halifax Rifles will be an important step on his road toward becoming a combat engineer for the military.
Federal Defence Minister Peter MacKay told the assembled crowd that the Halifax Rifles are hoping to have 130 young men and women join its ranks. He said reservists represent “over 20 per cent of the rotations that are taking place in Afghanistan today.”
MacKay said the Halifax Rifles’ return is part of Ottawa’s commitment to improving and expanding its military. The unit will serve as a light armoured reconnaissance regiment and will be led by commanding officer Maj. Shane Gallant.