1 CER honours Dustin Wasden
Lt Marty Douglas 1 Combat Engineer Regiment, Western Sentinel, 9 June 2011
On Feb. 28, 19 soldiers from 1 Combat Engineer Regiment (1 CER) and
Capt Daryl Bazin, Detachment Commander of 4 Canadian Ranger Patrol
Group (4 CRPG) Alberta/Saskatchewan, set out on a 12-day journey. Their
trek was to Northern Saskatchewan where they honoured a fallen member
of 1 CER.
In Northwest Saskatchewan lies Wasden Lake which was named after Cpl
Dustin Wasden’s great uncle, Pte Harold Wasden of the South
Saskatchewan Regiment. He was killed Dec. 11, 1944 while conducting
operations in Holland. Sixty-four years later, Cpl Dustin Wasden was
killed on Aug. 20, 2008 in Afghanistan.
Following this incident, an island on Wasden Lake was named Dustin
Wasden Island by the Government of Saskatchewan under the Geo- Memorial
At Stony Rapids, the group met up with WO Michael Gilliard and WO John
McNicol from 4 CRPG Alta/Sask Detachment and three Rangers from the
Fond du Lac Ranger Patrol. After the all the snowmobiles and toboggans
were prepared for the journey, the group set off on the first leg to
Fond du Lac, Sask.
The 1 CER soldiers, who had never been in the Arctic, quickly realized that the exercise would be a challenging journey.
The fierce cold and relentless pounding from riding over the frozen ice
drifts of Lake Athabasca forced the group to stop often to re-adjust
loads, check for frostbite and thaw frozen visors. The Canadian Rangers
were ever patient as they showed the soldiers better ways to secure the
toboggans and passed on knowledge to improve the soldiers’ riding
Eventually, with a lot of patience and assistance from the Rangers, the
expedition reached Wasden Lake. It was a sombre moment as the group
cleared the snow away to take a photo with the plaque placed on the
shore by the Wasden family commemorating their family’s losses. After
spending the night in arctic tents on the shores of Wasden Lake, the
soldiers formed a flagpole and flew an Engineer flag on Dustin Wasden
A 1 CER-themed geocache was buried at the base of the flag pole and the
group departed for the return trip. Upon the arrival at Fond du Lac the
group said goodbye to the Rangers. They taught the soldiers an
incredible wealth of knowledge and skills that was appreciated by all.
The experiences gained and the opportunity to honour a fallen 1 CER
comrade made for an outstanding expedition.
Note - Wasden Lake is located north of the east end of Lake Athabasca.
Lake Athabasca straddles the Alberta/Saskatchewan border and is near
the southern border of the Northwest Territories. It can be found at N
59° 58' 1'' W 109° 34' 6''