Ready to serve

Corporal Josh Nelson is thoroughly enjoying CF infantry

Corp. Josh Nelson was home for the Remembrance Day holiday and served at the cenotaph during the ceremonies

Corp. Josh Nelson was home for the Remembrance Day holiday and served at the cenotaph during the ceremonies

He didn’t dream of being a soldier; it wasn’t something he’d ever given much thought to. In fact, it was a chance visit to a website that set Josh Nelson on his current career path.

After graduating from QSS in 2007, Josh worked construction until the economic downturn in 2008 and he found himself out of work and wondering what he would do instead.

“I was surfing the net and stumbled on the Canadian Forces (CF) website,” Josh said.

“It was a spur of the moment decision.”

Conveniently, Josh was able to submit an application online and in less than a month he received a phone call from CF. Inside a week he was interviewed in Prince George and the day after that he was in.

“My parents were surprised but supportive, apparently though my mother cried a lot,” he said.

On his application, Josh indicated his first choice was infantry and that’s where he landed for basic training in Camp Borden, Ont.

“I loved it,” he said.

“Everything about it was great.”

After basic training, Josh was posted to Wainwright, Alberta where he received more specific infantry training.

This all suited him as one of his biggest enemies is boredom.

“I love to change things up and the army provides that,” he said.

Still very happy with his choice of careers, Corporal Josh Nelson’s first service post after completing his training was to CFB Shilo in 2010, where he was attached to the Second Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry.

Part of what appeals to this young man is the physical discipline and emphasis on staying fit to fight.

“I prefer boots on the ground rather than in a LAV3, I prefer to carry my pack instead of being carried in a vehicle,” he said.

But he conceded while in Afghanistan, he appreciated the protection offered by an armoured vehicle.

As deployment to Afghanistan approached, Josh and his fellow soldiers were trained on most types of handheld weaponry.

“My regular weapon is a C8 carbine,” he said.

“I’ve cycled through almost every job available at my level.”

That includes rifleman, machine gun and signaller with C6 machine gunner still to learn.

The C6 is primarily a platoon weapon and when fully complemented, a platoon would have approximately 36 – 38 members.

Josh left for Afghanistan on July 2 of this year and was stationed in Kabul.

“Canada’s role is now one of support and training of local forces,” he said.

“I didn’t see any shelling or rocket attacks.”

But he did make good friends both in his unit and with Afghan locals.

“I’ve met many cool Afghans, our interpreter’s name was Mohamed but we called him John and he was very cool,” Josh said.

He believes Canadians have done a lot of good in prepping for withdrawal and he said their hope is the Afghans will establish stability.

Josh has two years to go in the Canadian Forces and isn’t sure just what he’ll do after that.

“I take it one day at a time and am prepared to go wherever they send me,” he added.

While on base Josh is busy with various classes, maintaining his kit and says he works out a lot and, of course, enjoys coming home a couple of times a year.