Leading Seaman Kyle Ruttan thought he had received his biggest honour as a member of Canada’s navy in June, when he was recognized for helping rescue a man from an overturned and burning vehicle in 2014.
The Langford resident has another feather to proudly put in his military cap, as he is one of six members of the Canadian Armed Forces and one RCMP representative chosen as part of a silent vigil team at the National War Memorial during Remembrance Day ceremonies in Ottawa next week.
“I’m nervous, very nervous,” he said, adding the honour came as a complete surprise when he was notified a couple of weeks back. “I’ve attended lots of military parades, a lot of Remembrance Days, but never actually stood guard in a vigil before. Being in front of thousands of people and being on national TV, it brings a whole level of nervousness to it.”
Ruttan, 31, a Colwood-based CFB Esquimalt supply technician who specializes in humanitarian and disaster relief supplies and equipment, will stand guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier for 90 minutes to two hours. During the ceremony, he said, his thoughts will likely drift to military friends he’s lost.
“It’ll be tough trying to keep emotions in, just thinking of the member of our ship’s company (HMCS Regina) that we lost during our last deployment in 2014,” he said. He referred to shipmate and good friend, Leading Seaman Brandon South, who died in a Tanzania hospital after being granted leave from the ship when it was deployed in the Indian Ocean.
“I’ll be thinking about and remembering the comrades that have gone before us in all the world wars, and the war in Afghanistan and the Korean War, just remembering the lost comrades.”
Ironically, Ruttan will be standing guard in roughly the same spot at which Cpl. Nathan Cirillo was shot and killed in 2014, by a lone gunman who was later gunned down himself in parliament by then Sgt.-at-Arms Kevin Vickers.
“That’ll be in the back of my mind,” said Ruttan. “It’s an honour to be able to stand up there and do what he was doing.”
Sentry duty second honour this year for sailor
Ruttan’s June 29 commendation, awarded by Rear-Admiral Gilles Couturier, Commander of Maritime Forces Pacific/Joint Task Force (Pacific), was given after he and a cousin came to the aid of a man who rolled his car in the early morning hours on the Pat Bay Highway.
With the vehicle in flames, Ruttan called 911 as the cousin extracted the driver, and Ruttan later performed first aid on the man until emergency crews arrived.
A retired former naval co-worker found out about the incident and informed his commanding officer, who nominated Ruttan for the commendation.
A native of Verona, Ont. who grew up about 45 minutes north of Kingston, home of the Royal Military College – he was ironically a commissionaire at RMC before joining the military in 2012 – Ruttan will be accompanied by his father, Michael, for the week of activities planned for the sentry group.
While Michael doesn’t have a military background, Ruttan’s great grandfather was in the navy in the Second World War. “I’ve always had an interest in the military,” Kyle said, “[joining] was something I wanted to do.”
The Remembrance Day sentry guard members represent the Canadian Armed Forces and RCMP, but Ruttan is the only one from CFB Esquimalt chosen for the duty.
Having served just four and-a-half years in the navy and now being in a land-based position, he said, “it’s truly an amazing honour to be able to represent not only the Navy, but the logistics branch.”
He received kudos from the CFB ESquimalt base commander as well.
“We are all very proud of Leading Seaman Ruttan,” said Capt. (N) Steven Waddell. “[He] has shown exceptional dedication to his work and is an excellent example of what the Royal Canadian Navy has to offer.”