Members of Op ARTEMIS thank a Hidden Hero at CFB Halifax
By Lt(N) Melissa Kia,
Op ARTEMIS Roto 14 PAO
Art Gilbert is a Commissionaire who stands watch over 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, Cyprus, and the First Lebanon War, Art is a stalwart fixture of the residence.
When members of Operation ARTEMIS’s Roto 14 came to town to conduct their training in early November, Maj Angela Orme, a Legal Officer from CFB Edmonton, struck an unexpected friendship with the Tower’s steadfast guardian. With over 40 members preparing to support CTF 150 based out of Bahrain, those from outside the Maritime bubble were confined to Stadacona 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 Provost Marshall in times when 4-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 has 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 humbly 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 newly minted Op ARTEMIS team thought to honour Art with a formal presentation of 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 airmen and women which adorns the entrance to the Military Museums in Calgary, AB. “I wanted Art to know that he matters, and that his service is remembered,” said Maj Angela Orme. “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, with a cheeky and heartfelt grin, you never know what they have done, and what they have been through.”
Operation ARTEMIS, Roto 14, will begin their mission shortly after the beginning of the New Near, when Canadian Commodore Dan Charlebois, will become the Commander of CTF 150, one of the three task forces operated by Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) – a naval coalition of 33 nations that promotes security and stability in the international waters of the Middle East region. The deployment, known in Canada as Op ARTEMIS, is the CAF’s ongoing contribution to counter-terrorism and maritime security operations in the Middle Eastern and East African waters by interdicting and deterring regional smuggling operations which finance terrorism, while also building international capacity on the high seas.