Regimental Ball brings many RCMP members, old and new, together

By on October 4, 2017

Members of the Osoyoos RCMP had a ball during Saturday’s RCMP Regimental Ball at Spirit Ridge resort in Osoyoos. Shown from left to right are Sgt. Jason Bayda (commander of the Osoyoos detachment), Cst. Jody Rausch, Cst. Courtney Gardner, Cst. Ian MacNeil, former Osoyoos Commander Sgt. Randy Bosch, Cst. Sheldon Herman, Reserve Cst. Phil Fry and Cst. Stangl. Missing from photo are Cst. Jon Stermscheg, Cst. Lucky Sidhu and public service employees, Venesa Dixon, Christine Hahn and Jessie Deol. Lyonel Doherty Photo.

In a sea of red serge, you know you’re in good hands. But just don’t go walking in their looking guilty.

That wasn’t a problem at the Osoyoos RCMP Regimental Ball held at Spirit Ridge at Mk’Mip Resort on Sept. 30.

There wasn’t an empty seat in the conference centre as all 224 tickets sold out.

The fundraiser for the Desert Valley Hospice Society brought together current RCMP, veterans and old friends who go way, way back.

“What I really enjoyed was catching up with a few members who I had previously worked with yet had not seen for a number of years,” said host Sgt. Jason Bayda, commander of the Osoyoos RCMP detachment.

He noted it was an honour to have so many serving and retired members join them as well as their partnering agencies from both Canada and the US.

“It was also nice to share this evening with those we serve,” Bayda said.

The sergeant made mention of how special it was to share a table with Sgt. Randy Bosch, the former commander of the Osoyoos RCMP who continues to make great strides in his recovery following a serious car accident in May of 2016.

After the head table was piped in by piper Graham Burley, Master of Ceremonies Kevin Harrison said how exciting it was to celebrate the National Hockey League’s Centennial.

After a pause and some expected laughter, Sgt. Bayda corrected him by saying it was Canada’s 150th birthday.

The commander then proceeded to pay the piper, a ceremony steeped in tradition.

“Slainte Mhath,” which translated from the Gaelic means good health.

Harrison, a retired chief superintendent, then set the stage for a brief ceremony to honour fallen comrades, those members who made the supreme sacrifice and died in the line of duty.

Although they are absent from the ranks, they are here with us in spirit, Harrison said.

He called people’s attention to a small round table that occupied a place of dignity and honour. It is set for one, symbolizing that members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police are missing from the ranks.

“The table is round to show our everlasting memories. The tablecloth is white symbolizing the purity of their motives when answering the call to duty. A single red rose signifies the blood they have shed in sacrifice. It reminds us of the life of each of the fallen, their loved ones and friends.

“A slice of lemon on the bread plate reminds us of the bitter fate of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. A pinch of salt symbolizes the countless tears of their families and friends. The glass is inverted.

“They cannot share the evening’s toasts.

“The candle represents the light of hope that their lives were not given in vain. Our nation is eternally grateful. The chair is empty, they are not here. Our national flag reminds us of their sacrifice to preserve law and order in our country. Let us remember and never forget.”

Staff Sgt. Martin Trudeau from the Kelowna RCMP carried a single stetson and placed it at the empty setting. A moment of silence followed.

As a side note, Harrison said the RCMP Veterans’ Association and the RCMP in Penticton are working on a memorial ceremony to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the deaths of three members that occurred on Aug. 6, 1958 in Okanagan Falls. He said the members were killed in an airplane crash during the manhunt for a man who murdered a 28 year old woman (Anita Budde) in Kaleden.

“Another member was shot trying to apprehend him at another time and members of the RCMP actually shot (not fatally) the suspect in Washington State,” Harrison said.

The memorial ceremony will be held in the fall of 2018, likely in Penticton where the cairn commemorating their deaths is located.

Sergeant Bayda said the ball was several months in the making and required a tremendous amount of work.

“Although I was the host, the real work was put in by the South Okanagan RCMP Veterans. I simply rode their coat tails.”

Bayda personally thanked retired C/Supt. Kevin Harrison and his wife Lois, retired C/Supt. Wade Blake and his wife Diane, retired Inspectors Tim and Carole Bird, retired Sgt. Jack Becker and his wife Bea, retired Sgt. Ted Cronmiller and his wife Joyce, and from the Desert Valley Hospice Society, Pat Wycherley.

Harrison, a director for Desert Valley Hospice Society, said he was overwhelmed by the support they received for the ball.

“Events such as this put a positive light on the RCMP in the community and demonstrates the commitment that both serving and retired members have to the communities where they live and work.”

LYONEL DOHERTY

Special to the Times

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