It was St-Valentine's day, 14 Feb 1968, a cold and very windy day. The type of day our Air Observation Post Troop Officer Commanding, Joe Thibedeau had been waiting for to execute one of his plans. We had been firing and observing the fire of our regiment, 2 RCHA, quite a lot in the last two months with our new SP 155mm guns, the M109s, and on this day, he insisted we all take our binoculars with us in the cockpit because we were going to need them! We prepared for the flight in our rented hangar at the Fredericton airport and Joe explained, using the map, what he wanted us to do. After the appropriate checks, we took off and headed East. Joe on board 16735 with Bdr Leyte as observer, Loyd MacMorran and Gord Shellard (who was not yet checked out on type) were in 732 whilst I was in 733 with Sgt Irwin as my observer. After take off, we climbed in a loose formation over the St. John River and headed towards the extreme Eastern boundary of the Gagetown Training Area.
We RV'd at the MacLeod Cross Road with Jerusalem Road, an intersection we had marked on our maps. It is just North of Murray Lake and as planned, when we arrived on station, I was already at 6000 ft ASL, Loyd took his place above me at 7000 and Joe was at 8000. The winds were very strong and maintaining the nose of the aircraft into the wind, with lowered flaps and reduced power, we could maintain height and position over this one spot. After we were properly stacked-up and stationnary, so to speak, Joe indicated a target in the impact area that I was to engage. It was at least 14 km away. My observer, Sgt Irwin and I determined it's location and I radioed the Regt CP ordering a Battery Target. I ranged onto it successfully using my binoculars whilst still flying or hovering the aircraft, looking down to stay over the intersection, and looking up, to make sure I was not creeping onto Lloyd. On completion of my shoot, Loyd and Gord also engaged a Battery Target, and then, finally, Joe engaged a Regimental Target. It was the only time I ever used my binoculars whilst flying my L19 and it was an experience that I shall never forget.