National Sentry Program: S3 Erin Marsden

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Navy News / August 25, 2020

Sailor 3rd Class (S3) Erin Marsden is one of the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) sailors selected to participate in the Canadian Armed Forces’ (CAF) National Sentry Program for 2020, which sees CAF members standing sentry at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, located in front of the National War Memorial in Ottawa.

“Being a part of the National Sentry Program means so much to me. When I got the email that I was recommended for this tasking, I cried for joy and called my Mum right away and told her. I am honoured to be the first group to start the program this year,” says S3 Marsden.

“This year has been tough for everyone around the world and the fact that the Sentry Program is back up and running shows resilience and shows the country that the CAF cares about guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier no matter what is going on in the world. It is important that we stand sentry at the memorial in masks to show the community that we are keeping us safe and them safe no matter the costs.”

S3 Marsden has only been in the Navy for roughly one and a half years, but it is the realization of a dream that began when she was only 12 years old.

“[I joined] the Royal Canadian Navy because it has been my career goal since I was 12 years old. Everything about the military interests me and I knew the Navy is where I wanted to head towards for a full-time career,” she says.

“I wanted a challenging job that would allow me to broaden my skills and have me doing something different every day.”

The biggest challenge S3 Marsden has faced in her short career has been completing her Basic Military Qualification (BMQ) training during the summer of 2019.

But she overcame those challenges by fighting through the discomfort, and focusing on the “why” of it all.

“Everything we do in the military and all our training happens for a reason and has a purpose. The support of my instructors and my teammates in my platoon is what got me through the training and eventually lead to me feeling confident in the gas hut,” says S3 Marsden.

“I ended up walking out of the gas hut at the end of the training with a smile on my face because I knew I just accomplished something I didn’t think I could do and I was proud that I overcame that challenge with the help of my teammates.”

Outside of the Navy, S3 Marsden volunteers at the Canadian Cancer Society every year and participates in the Relay for Life, a community fundraising event where Canadians join in the fight against cancer.

“Relay for Life is very important to me and every year I fundraise as much as I can. Cancer has affected [me] and my family several times and I am very passionate about raising awareness and helping find the cure for this disease.”

Although the National Sentry Program usually runs from April to November annually, the 2020 program was reduced due to the outbreak of COVID-19. Sentries are posted Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., from July 13 to November 10.