Sombre anniversary at Valcartier
Published Thursday, July 30, 2009 7:24PM EDT
There was special gathering at CFB Valcartier, north of Quebec City, on Thursday to remember a tragic accident that took place at the base 35 years ago.
On July 30, 1974, young soldiers at the Valcartier cadet camp were handling "dummy" grenades during a lecture on bomb safety.
A 14-year-old cadet, Eric Lloyd, pulled the pin on one of the grenades.
"All I can remember is we were thrown backwards. There was a big black cloud of smoke and your ears are ringing and you're looking at what the hell happened," said John Hannon, a former cadet who attended the remembrance ceremony.
Antoni Snopek, who was a 17-year-old instructor at the time, still has clear memories of the explosion.
"For 10 seconds, there was black darkness. We all did not hear anything, and then it came back and all we heard was screaming, yelling, kids crying," he said.
Six cadets were killed and 54 people were injured in the explosion.
Some survivors, like Hannon, said they are still traumatized by the incident.
"We still have not received an apology from the Canadian Armed Forces - no recognition whatsoever," he said.
But Sgt. Major Charles Gutta said the Forces were helpful as he planned the remembrance ceremony, and they made him a promise.
"What happened to us 35 years ago will not happen again, that I was assured," he said.