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Meet the Author's Author
Live for Jesus! That's what matters! That you see the light in me and come along! :)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Last Parade of Ex-Cadet Ex-Corporal Jones

Walking into 425 Squadron hot, flushed and with a headache at 7:55pm, furious because on my last parade night as a (nearly) 20 year old cadet, I had been searching at home for 30 minutes and couldn't find my beret, I had no idea my night was going to be so splendid.

It really is my last parade night tonight - officially. My 3822a has been signed off - "This is to certify that Cadet Sian Jones has left 425 Squadron because of AGE LIMIT." However, I'm doing a final parade night tomorrow with the Squadron I began my cadet career with - 196 Squadron, my home Squadron - my heart's Squadron.

Last night, in crumpled, oil-smeared, un-ironed uniform at CWO Horobin's Dacre Sword presentation, I thought back through all the time I had been in cadets, and everything I'd left undone.
Was it worth it?

A rank gained - and lost through transferral due to pressures from home plus a power struggle, never to be regained.

A BTec begun - Public Services - never completed.

A D of E award scheme applied for twice - the D of E officer left the Squadron after we got our little books.

Gliding Induction Courses - two completed out of three.

Shooting, which I joined for - I passed the test in one short night on the Squadron floor, and never went shooting.

Camps - money ran out.

So much I'd wanted to much I never did.

A. Sgt. Horobin asked me tonight if there was anything I wanted to say. Four and a half years of my cadet history running through my head, and I had no idea how to say it - so chose a parroted old phrase instead.

"I'd just like to say, make the most of what the cadets has to offer - you won't regret it."

But I love my drill. I love my uniform. I love parades. And oh boy! Am I ever going to miss them.

Would I change it at all? Some stuff I would. I look back on some things that I missed, some of my decisions and some of my actions in the Corps with deep regret. And other things, I never would change.

The Corps changed me. I was a shy, self-effacing 15 and a half year old girl who hid in corners with a hood over her face when I first joined. I'm comfortable in taking command, in being in other people's space when required and not being so stiff about my own, in learning to change.
A lot of that, the Corps has done for me.

A witness for Christ, a mission field. That was the Corps to me when I first arrived at 196 Squadron. I went to support my brother. Then they made a cadet out of me. I'll never forget the night that Mr Wilcox watched me teach drill (three months in) to my brother and another new cadet, and said to then Sgt Beckett, "we might have a future NCO here!"

I stayed with the Squadron through thick and thin - when it collapsed and we were running the entire thing on a hardcore of six regular cadets - Sgt Beckett, Cpls Lindop, Rowley and Bolas, and Cdt Hodgetts and me.

We knit together as a second family, and my second life was cadets. Every event I could in good conscience attend, I came to for the Squadron. Parades and community events were, and always will be now, what I loved.

My world ripped apart when the Boss left the Squadron, taking with him Sgt Beckett. He promoted me to trainee Corporal/acting Corporal the night he left, the end of October 2009.

I fought against accepting the rank as I felt I didn't deserve it, but in the meantime tried to help run the Sqn and assist new Sgts Rowley and Lindop.

In February 2010, Flt Lt Averill promoted me to full Corporal. That same month Cdt Taylor transferred from Cosford Sqn. She did a lot of work in helping our cadets, and by May was also corporal.

I got along with most of my cadets, and tried to look after them and be a role model to the best of my ability, being one of few on the Squadron who was able to keep a form of discipline when they were on parade.
I created a small nucleus of cadets who I had personally taught, trying to knit them together as a hardcore and encourage them to build up and teach other newer cadets who were coming on the Squadron in masses, something which took off almost without any effort from me in my cadet, Shannon Yates. She's now a corporal with a potentially brilliant career ahead in the ATC.

By April of 2011, some...massive changes had occurred in my personal life and my family, making an upcoming and increasing power struggle on the Squadron unbearable, at which point my mother arranged my transferral to 425 as I was coming home almost every night in tears.

425 is a good Squadron. Good staff hardcore. Good cadets. And, as a near-19 year old, it was a good retirement home. The staff and senior cadets were and have been and are very supportive of me as a person, and I have really needed that. The Horobins have been there for me at every turn - Sue, Laura and Luke. I really wish I knew what to say as thanks.
Sgt Corner and Sgt Sedgewick have also, for me, been two of the most supportive and encouraging senior cadets, as were Cpl Bayley and Cpl Soen.
Of course, I can't really close off without saying thanks to my really good buddies from when I first joined the Squadron, those who kind of mentored me and the young'uns who've stuck around me now.

From 196 - CWO Rowley, CWO Lindop, Cpl Yates, Cpl Hodgetts, Cpl Bate, Cdt James, Cdt Fletcher, Cdt York, Cdt Petty.
Flt Lt Averill, AWO Bennett, Mr and Mrs Humpage, Mr Alcock, Karen, Mr and Mrs Talbot, Mr Binion, Mary.

Flt Lt Beckett, Sgt Beckett, Sgt Russon, Cpl Bolas, Cdt Hough, Cdt Norris.

From 425 - CWO Horobin, Sgts Sedgwick and Corner, Cpls Soen and Bayley, Cdt Banks, Cdt Batchelor, Cdt Henderson, Cdt Lloyd, Cdt Tomlin, Cdt Carver
Flt Lt Morries-Bates, Flt Lt Halford, Sue Horobin, Sgt Horobin, Sgt Lunn, Mr Batchelor, Mr Sheppard, Miss Jones, Padre Worrall

I sometimes wonder if my focus was entirely corrupted from what happened in November 2009...although God has still shone forth through me since. I just wonder...if the testimony is quite as bright as it once was.

Tonight, I walked in (I found my beret! It was on the bus from last night's Dacre Sword Presentation! :D) and they were doing drill. Because I was late, I didn't get to do any, before we fell out and formed a queue for the food. When that was done, Padre Worrall got his official padre badge, certificate and status from the Wing Chaplain before delivering his padre hour, which involved a fun game. Afterwards, we practically went on final parade.

For me, it was a fun night of food, photos and friends. Old cadets and staff coming back to wish me farewell and all the best, and new/er cadets happy for the party. :P
The highlights of my evening have to be seeing the old people come down, the hug from Mrs. Horobin, the card and chocolates from Deanna, the pound coin meant for my last tuck from Charlotte, and especially the present from Mrs Horobin, Laura and Luke. Of course, the flowers, hoodie and card from 425 too.

I have to say...tonight was probably one of my best nights at 425 and I loved it.

A fitting close for an old girl.

I could have done so much better, but I could have done a lot worse.

For four and a half years? It - was good.

Thank You, Lord, for the experience. Guide my future steps.

In Christ,
Mademoiselle Sian