Marc Calzada and Brodyn Gabites found friendship, unity and leadership skills after joining the Ashburton Cadet Unit.
The 17-year-olds have been with the unit for the past five years and have both advanced through the ranks to hold the title of staff sergeant.
One of them will lead the cadet unit in the Anzac Day dawn service ceremony at 6.30am.
Cadets from Ashburton’s 24 Squadron Air Training Corp will cover the civic service at 11am.
Cadets from both units were among the volunteers helping with the annual Poppy Day appeal on the streets of Ashburton.
Anzac Day involvement is considered a huge honour. It is one of two significant commemoration days on the defence force calendar, the other is Armistice Day.
However April 25 is number one on the cadet calendar, a must attend for all cadets.
The services have seen cadets put in many hours training in the lead up to the day, especially for those on cenotaph guard and flag and guard roles.
It’s a solemn and ceremonious event where timed-precision is important and training becomes second nature.
Studying at Ashburton College, Marc and Brodyn joined the unit as Year 9 students coming from different places in their lives.
Marc had relocated with his family to Ashburton from Auckland and joined to meet others and experience outdoor adventure. Brodyn sought similar adventure but also felt a sense of duty.
Now Year 13, the two look back on their time with fondness at the friendships they have made, the survival skills they have learned and the adventures they have taken part in.
It has also been an honour to be a part of a national body, which can open career opportunities.
The duo have attended outdoor survival camps, carried out bush craft training, visited defence force bases, flown on defence force aircraft including a NH90 helicopter and in latter years attended Junior NCO courses to develop their leadership and interpersonal skills.
They have also met hundreds of other cadets nationwide through cadet force events such as Cadet 2020.
They say its been an honour to be a part of the unit, especially at formal remembrance services such as Anzac Day.
Marc says he learned a lot about World War 1 growing up.
“World War 1 poems and learning about their lives in the trenches and all that. And it really opened my mind to the sacrifices that a lot of people had to make for us today … the conditions and everything they had to go through.’’
‘‘For me Anzac Day is about the sacrifices people made and how despite those conditions people can show through their humanity and work together,’’ he said.
It was a similar sentiment for Brodyn who also thought about the sacrifices and fatalities since then, even as peacekeepers.
Personnel from the New Zealand Defence Force have been used around the world to help others build their countries back up, he said.
He had respect for the armed forces and their crisis works including humanitarian efforts closer to home, including the aftermath of the Christchurch earthquakes and in Mid Canterbury to help with flooding last year.
The cadets, along with hundreds of others, will pay their respects on Anzac Day.
‘‘We will be showing respect for all those who have come before us and all those still in service,’’ Marc said.
The unit, which celebrates its 135th anniversary this year, is planning a formal, invitation-only dinner on July 2, and open day at the base for all past, present cadets, leaders and supporters to attend on July 3.
It is also an opportunity for new members aged Year 9 and above to visit, although a recruitment drive will begin in Term Two.
Ashburton Cadet Unit major Cezarne Rodgers said the dinner at the Ashburton RSA would include defence force dignitaries and ex-members.
The unit, officially began on March 18, 1887, with the interest of 29 boys.
It grew to 56 cadets once established under the banner of Ashburton High School Cadets, which ran alongside the existing Ashburton Rifles and Ashburton Guards forces.
MID CANTERBURY SERVICES
Anzac Day remembrance ceremonies in Ashburton start with the dawn service at the Ashburton Cenotaph on Baring Square West at 6.30am.
Speakers are Ashburton RSA president Merv Brenton and Ashburton Cadet Unit major Cezarne Rodgers.
The Civic Service and wreath laying (minus the parade march) starts at 11am.
Mr Brenton will speak alongside Ashburton mayor Neil Brown as well as student leaders Jack Brown and Jorja Roulston from Ashburton College.
Groups are to assemble around the cenotaph, rather than in parade formation, being mindful of others, wear masks and maintaining social distancing.
Services will also be held at Hakatere Marae (State Highway 1, Fairton) from 7.30am; at the Hinds community hall, held outside from 10am and at Rakaia community centre where people are to assemble from 10am, service at 10.15am.
There will also be a service at the Ealing Hall from 9.15am, followed by pot luck morning tea.
There will be no services this year at Methven and Mayfield and Districts.