Petrolia cadet tops in Ontario


Buster Thiel says it is a very proud moment in his army cadet career.

The Petrolia Cadet has won a prestigious award as the top army cadet in the province.

Thiel, who is a Mater Warrant Officer with the local corps, heard he’d won the Major General Howard Award in Ontario on his way home from school.

“I was on the bus coming home from school and my CO (commanding officer) sent me an email, it was a forward from the league telling me I had won,” he tells The Independent.

The award is named after Howard, who wanted to see army cadets excel on the National Star of Excellence testing. To win the honour, cadets usually receive over 90 per cent on the testing for things such as leadership, fitness, drilling, deportment, teaching skills, and expedition skills. The length of time the person has been in the cadet program, how they deal with others in the corps, their service in the community and their conduct is also considered.

Thiel joined the Petrolia corps four-and-a-half years ago at his dad’s suggestion. He had been an army cadet, too and thought his son would thrive in the program.

And he did. Thiel says he loves the structure of the program and spends about 48 hours a month attending cadets and preparing for cadets. “I work out every day, to keep the fitness standard (of the army cadets). I’m constantly reading the rules and regulations of the cadet organization…to keep me sharp and the cadets under me sharp.”

Thiel even had the opportunity to travel with the program, going to Alberta over the summer for six weeks of training including glacier climbing and horseback riding.

All of this has lead Thiel to consider whether he’ll make a career of military service. “My plan is to go to RMC (Royal Military College) … in combat arms … I plan to make a career out of it,” he says. “I’m in Grade 11 now…and I plan to take a year off and join the reserves to get a good feel of what it is like (to be in the military).”

Thiel is hopeful if he does apply to RMC, the Major General Howard award will help.

For now, he’s looking forward to Nov. 4 at Queen Elizabeth School around 6:30 pm when the Ontario Commander of the Army Cadet League travels to Petrolia to present his award.

And Thiel says still trying to grasp what has happened, as he did when he first heard he’d been named the top cadet in the province.

“There was a moment of shock…I wasn’t sure it was real…I had to call to clarify…he (the Commanding Officer) told me it was a legit thing and it was actually happening.

“For the next two days I had it on my mind…I was really nervous…did I actually deserve this?…But now I am thankful that I got it,  very thankful that they thought that I deserved it.”