Inaugural Stalker 822 Tournament held at Hartlen Point Golf Course
By Joanie Veitch,
As the sun peeked over the horizon, a steady stream of people arrived at Hartlen Point Force Golf Club on September 27, all there to support and take part in the inaugural Stalker 822 Memorial Golf Tournament.
The event was organized by members of the Canadian Veterans Corps Nova Scotia, along with friends and family members of the crew members who died in the tragic helicopter crash off the coast of Greece in April 2020 while on deployment with HMCS Fredericton.
Since the unveiling of the memorial at the Shearwater Aviation Park on April 29, 2021 — the one-year anniversary — the tournament marked the first time people could gather in larger numbers. For friends and family of the crew members, along with military members from the area and others, it was a special moment — a chance to reminisce and pay tribute.
“It wasn’t enough just to have the Shearwater Memorial, I wanted to have something that would leave more of a happier memory… something we could do as families and friends and something we could all be at together,” said S1 Shane Cowbrough, father to SLt Abbigail Cowbrough, and the main organizer of the event.
SLt Cowbrough was one of the six crew members on the CH-148 Cyclone helicopter – Stalker 822. Other members who lost their lives include: Master Cpl Matthew Cousins, Capt Kevin Hagen, Capt Brenden MacDonald, Capt Maxime Miron-Morin and SLt Matthew Pyke.
SLt Pyke’s fiancée Helen Hines drove in from their home in Grand Lake to volunteer at the registration table. His father, David Pyke, came in from Brookfield, wearing a blazer and the Memorial Cross he received after his son died.
Catching up with one another and greeting others just arriving, both said they were feeling a huge weight of emotion.
“Because of COVID, we haven’t been able to get together. We haven’t even had Matt’s funeral yet. It’s been a really hard time, but it’s good to be here together,” said Hines, smiling up at her fiance’s father.
As registration got underway, S1 Cowbrough spoke to the participants as they assembled, with physical distancing, in the parking lot. He informed them that inside the clubhouse a video loop was playing, with photos of each of the crew members –courtesy of their families – and that the fifth hole had been set up as a memorial site with flowers.
“It’s the prettiest spot on the golf course, with a beautiful view… a nice spot to stop and take a moment for reflection,” he said.
While not playing in the tournament, David Pyke said he planned to walk about and visit the memorial at Shearwater later in the day for “some quiet time” on a busy day.
The event sold out quickly, with all proceeds going to Soldier On, a program of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), which supports the recovery and rehabilitation of military members and veterans struggling with physical and mental injuries through sport and recreational activities.
We chose them because every dollar they receive in donations gets to the actual veterans themselves,” said S1 Cowbrough. “As a member of the UN NATO vets, I know there are a lot of our members who have already used their services, so I knew the organization we were getting involved with is one that is close to and supports our veterans.”
Eileen Du Plooy, regional coordinator (NS/NL) for Soldier On, said she was grateful for the generosity and support of the program.
“Soldier On’s motto is to adapt, overcome and soldier on,” Du Plooy said. “What transpired at this event, coming together and healing through sport, is the driving force behind our program.