The sailors will be recognized by the Navy League of Canada in a special ceremony in the Senate chamber on Parliament Hill. Truro's Lieutenant John Mitchell 'Mitch' Willigar was the local candidate.
Born and raised in Truro, Willigar joined the Royal Canadian Navy in 2008 under the Regular Officer Training Plan. He studied economics and psychology at St. Mary's University and received a bachelor of arts degree in 2010.
In December 2011, Willigar completed his initial Maritime Surface and Sub-surface Officer Training in Esquimalt, B.C. Posted to HMCS Toronto in Halifax, NS, he hit the ground running aboard a ship with a busy program as it prepared to depart on Operation ARTEMIS ROTO 2. He assumed the role of supervisor for the ships Naval Boarding Party (NBP) and co-ordinated the team's training for the upcoming mission.
During the deployment, Willigar established himself as a competent officer, quickly gaining the commanding officer's trust and earning his bridge watchkeeping certificate. As team leader for NBP, he distinguished himself as a courageous leader and consummate professional. He also led the NBP in conducting more than 30 boardings, which resulted in six major drug seizures on the Arabian/Red Seas. The initial seizure was recorded as one of the most substantial Maritime interceptions of narcotics in the Combined Maritime Forces area of operations. While in theatre, HMCS Toronto's Boarding Party successfully intercepted 7,300 kg's of narcotics which would have otherwise funded terrorist organizations throughout the world.
Despite only serving in the Royal Canadian Navy for a short period, Willigar's contributions to Canada's counter-terrorism efforts served the Navy, the Armed Forces of Canada proudly.
As part of the special celebration, the soldiers, along with a navy league cadet and a Royal Canadian sea cadet, as well as a Second World War veteran had the
opportunity to meet the speaker of the Senate, the minister of National Defence, Vice-Admiral
Mark Norman-Commander of the RCN-and the prime minister.
Additionally, the six recognized sailors have been asked to choose six navy league cadet corps who will be given a $1,000 donation each from the Maritime affairs portfolio.
Willigar chose his home community of Truro, presenting the cheque to Navy League Cadet Corps 185 CP0 James Carrol.
Navy league cadet corps are free for boys and girls between the ages of nine and 13, with uniforms loaned to cadets. The program is structured around introducing and building upon teamwork and leadership with a Maritime orientation. NLCC CPO James Carroll meets Monday 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Truro Armouries on Willow Street.