Navy brothers lean on each other through tough times
By Ryan Melanson,
For HMCS Toronto, the 2020 Operation REASSURANCE deployment was anything but routine. While still reeling from tragedy that struck the Navy and the wider defence team last spring, the ship left Halifax in July, joining NATO allies in the mediterranean under tight COVID-19 restrictions.
For Sailors First Class Anton and Triston Manson, two brothers who are each posted to Toronto, the sail presented a number of challenges, with pre-deployment preparations complicated by the health restrictions, and the extra stress of being overseas during a pandemic. Being in the unique position of having a close family member on board was a blessing.
“I got lucky this time, I had that little piece of home with me, so my brother and I were able to lean on each other,” said Triston.
“We don’t always see each other during the work day, but we’ll always eat together, and we hang out everyday if we’re in port. We’re also good friends, which helps.”
It’s not the first time the pair has sailed as part of the same crew. They’ve been able to share a good portion of their naval experiences with each other, and even prior to beginning their Forces career, the brothers followed very similar paths. Both were standout hockey players at a young age, playing at different times at the Major Junior level for the Shawinigan Cataractes, and both had a taste of working odd jobs in the private sector before deciding on the Navy route.
They were inspired by their grandfather, an RCN veteran, and their father, who encouraged them to consider military service.
“My job’s become extremely important to me. I’m able to provide a good life for my family, it allows me to participate in sports, and I feel like I’m showing my children the importance of a strong work ethic and determination,” Anton said.
They’re in different trades, with Anton, the younger brother, working as a Naval Electronic Sensor Operator (NESOP), and Triston as a Marine Technician (MARTECH), but both say the Navy has given them the best job they’ve ever had.
Being able to play hockey regularly has been a big perk, and aside from trips to national CAF tournaments and local sports awards, their hockey background has led to other notable moments. Anton’s very first Navy sail in 2016, a short trip to Bermuda with HMCS St. John’s, saw he and his brother lead their shipmates in an exhibition game against the Bermuda National Ball Hockey team. Not long after, and despite being a Montreal Canadiens fan, Anton was promoted to his current rank by Toronto Maple Leafs legend Wendell Clark while the team visited CFB Halifax.
Anton says the Navy life has allowed the game to remain a big part of their lives. They’re on the ice multiple times a week, each coach their children in minor hockey, and both will no doubt be suiting up for CFB Halifax again when CAF sports programs eventually make their full return.
Originally from the Halifax area, and with plenty of family nearby, the brothers have been able to support each other on ship while knowing support exists at home for their young families – Triston is a father of two, while Anton is a father of four. This dynamic has allowed them to thrive, and the Mansons say we can expect to see them in uniform, as well as in their Navy hockey gear, for years to come.