Nils French (left) is welcomed by the 44 Engineer Squadron at a change of appointment parade. Photo submitted

Local army unit welcomes Rossland man as new leader

Maj. Nils French took over 44 Engineer Squadron on April 6

The Army Reserve in the Kootenays is now commanded by a new leader.

Maj. Nils French, a Rossland native, took over 44 Engineer Squadron at a change of appointment parade April 6 at the Kemball Armoury in Trail.

Maj. French took over command from Maj. Leah Wilson, who led the squadron over the last two years. He is an engineer officer who recently transferred to the reserve force after 21 years of full time service in the Canadian Armed Forces.

“The 44th provides area residents from all ages and backgrounds an excellent opportunity to gain valuable skills as a member of the Canadian Armed Forces while serving part-time in the local area,” said Maj. French.

When addressing the soldiers at the event he noted he’s seen these skills in action, and has been impressed with the work he has seen them do over the last several months.

The squadron is based in Trail with a satellite location in Cranbrook and is part of 39 Combat Engineer Regiment. Soldiers from the unit are trained as combat engineers and engineer officers. Engineers build everything the army needs and ensure it can get everywhere it needs to go. They are the army’s experts on road, bridge, and building construction, fortification, boat operations, and demolition and explosives.

The 44th has served in Trail since it was formed in 1947. Over the decades, members of the squadron have put their skills to work on community projects, responded across B.C. during floods, fires, and other emergencies, and deployed on missions around the world, from Bosnia to Afghanistan.

Members of the 44th train on Thursday nights at 7 p.m. at the Kemball Armoury in Shavers Bench and at a newly-leased facility in Cranbrook. The reserves also offer guaranteed full-time summer employment. Anyone interested in joining the Army Reserve is encouraged to contact the unit.

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