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Sgt Spence Honored as Eagle Staff Carrier for 80th Anniversary of D-Day and Liberation of Normandy

By Sgt Jessica Spence

June 1-9, 2024 - In a remarkable tribute to the historic events of D-Day (June 6, 1944) and the Liberation of Normandy, Sergeant Spence was chosen as the esteemed Eagle Staff carrier. My primary role during the commemorative events was to carry the symbolic CAF Eagle Staff, while also serving as a wreath bearer and vigil of a monument.


Sgt Spence and Veterans at Brettville-sur-Laize Canadian War Cemetery.

Throughout the ceremonies, I executed my duties with utmost respect and professionalism, leaving an indelible mark on all those present. Our mornings sometimes started at 04:00 being assigned tasks I did it with precision and grace but also utilized my knowledge of Indigenous culture to enrich the experience for everyone. Through smudge ceremonies and preparing the Eagle Staff, I enlightened the public about the significance of the CAF Eagle Staff and welcomed others to smudge if they wished even citizens of France joined in to smudge.


Among the many highlights of the operation, I had the privilege of being part of a VIP ceremonial team the 6 of us were Contingent SM MWO Keene, Padre LCol Michel Dion, Piper Sgt Brennan Pinkerton Kock, Bugler Cpl Steven Abra, RCMP Vanessa Moisan, Eagle Staff carriers MWO Brown and my self. Getting to know this group and hearing the captivating stories from the veterans themselves was emotionally humbling. Additionally, I got to represent my trade as a cook.

Member’s of the ceremonial team left to right MWO Keene, Sgt Pinkerton Kock, Padre LCol Dion, RCMP Vanessa Moisan, Cpl Abra, Sgt Spence, MWO Brown

The last highlight of all was that I got to fly my community of Peguis First Nation’s Flag on the beach of Juno as well as the Treaty 1 flag as members of my community and the 7 communities that fall under Treaty 1 had fallen member that were on that beach that day. It was my way of way of recognizing them for their heroic acts on that day.


Sgt Spence and MWO Brown with the Peguis Flag on Juno Beach

The commemorative events included several significant locations, each holding historical and emotional significance. These included the Beny-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery, where I served as a wreath bearer during the GoC/VAC Ceremony. Another notable event was the unveiling of the Royal Regina Rifles Monument at Thue et Mue - Place des Canadiens, where I got to see Princess Anne speak, I couldn’t believe how much she looked like the Queen.


At the Juno Beach Centre, I stood as the Eagle Staff carrier during the GoC/VAC Ceremony, symbolizing the strength and resilience of those who fought for freedom. Similarly, at the Brettville-sur-Laize Canadian War Cemetery, I fulfilled the same role, paying homage to the fallen heroes. The honour I felt that day was beyond words. It’s something I will remember for the rest of my life.


Sgt Spence with CAF Eagle on Juno Beach.

Adding to the commemorative events, I participated in the Ceremony at Jardin du Canada, Caen Memorial, organized by the Canadian Battlefield Foundation. During this poignant moment, I stood in a vigil of a monument, underscoring the importance of remembrance and honoring the sacrifices made.


The Abbaye d’Ardenne was another location where I played a significant role as a vigil of a monument during the Canadian Battlefield Foundation Ceremony. Where 20 Canadian soldiers were found and buried. This was the first time there was an event held for these soldiers and their story was told to the public.


My involvement and contributions throughout the commemorative events felt like the highest honour of military service. My commitment to honoring the past and educating others about Indigenous culture left an indelible impression on all those who attended. I’m very grateful to have attended these events. It really gave me a different view of how we play a role in our daily lives while on duty. All pictures were sent from friends, family, and other online sites.  

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