They offered a helping hand, and Morrisburg Legion Branch 48 president Maurice Praine was willing to accept it.
Saturday, four members of the Canadian Army Veterans Motorcycle Unit (The C.A.V.), were out and about in Morrisburg to assist the local Legion Branch by selling poppies. They were easily identified as they were wearing their black vests which, according to their website, are worn “in mourning of those who have fallen in securing our Peace.”
CAV Motorcycle Units were started in 2003, and are active in Charity Event Riding and Community Support Events across Canada.
They support charity events locally, provincially, nationally and internationally.
Saturday, four members of the nine member local CAV Unit, Sicily, were in Morrisburg. They included Jeff Betts, John Kennedy, Bill Aitken and Reg Anderson all of whom have served in the Canadian Military.
The Unit was formed this past summer and according to Betts, is based out of Morrisburg, because it is central to the members. Betts is from Winchester and other members are from Morrisburg, Cardinal and Cornwall.
“We are teamed with the Morrisburg Legion only in the sense of developing a mutually beneficial relationship,” explained Betts. “We have the same goals of helping our veterans and our community.”
The CAV is a national brotherhood of Canadian Army, Air Force and Navy Veterans who are motorcycle enthusiasts.
There are three regions: 1st CAV which covers central Canada (Manitoba to Quebec), 2nd CAV in Eastern Canada and 3rd Cav in Western and Northern Canada. Members gather in units named in tribute of Canadian Battle Honours.
The local unit is in 1st CAV and is named for the 1943 Battle of Sicily when the Allies launched one of the largest combined operations of WWII for control of Sicily.
“Our mission statement is to ‘ride and have fun, while helping others’,” said Betts whose nickname is Lurch and who was an Administrative Clerk in the military for 14 years.
CAV does have several charities of choice, such as “Ride for Dad”, an annual ride for prostrate cancer and ICROSS, International Community for the Relief of Starvation and Suffering of the world’s poor. It also supports a number of military organizations including Soldier On and the MFRC (Military Family Resource Centre).
At the local level they support community events and the local Legions, or they may run their own event in support of a cause they choose.
Betts also explained that members don’t have to own motorcycles. Those who don’t can come out and assist in fundraising events, travelling to the event as they choose.
The CAVs ‘Honorary Rider in Chief to Veterans’ is Rick Hillier, past Chief of Defense Staff for Canada’s military.
In addition to the charity assistance, Betts says the group gathers to “have fun and reminisce about our military experiences.”
Saturday, John Kennedy, nicknamed Saddle Tramp, was doing just that as he pointed to the picture hanging in the Morrisburg Legion lounge of the HMCS Haida, the last remaining example of the 27 Tribal Class destroyers built between 1937 and 1945.
“I served in peace time, (1959-63), and I was the last to sail overseas on the Haida. They took it out of service in 1960.”
Kennedy says he has logged over 200,000 km on his 1996 bike, and he has enjoyed all of his experiences. He recalls travelling with a group out of Ottawa to participate in a parade in Washington. “I’ve been all over. I really enjoy it.”
“We are always looking for new members,” said Betts.
Information on The CAV can be found at www.thecav.ca