Military honours Ladysmith sailor

Investiture into Order of Military Merit at ceremony in Ottawa

  • Jun. 21, 2016 4:00 p.m.

Pirjo RaitsThe Chronicle

The stories of life onboard ships, foreign ports and high seas adventures lured 19-year-old Norman Cawthra into the Canadian navy. He grew up in Surrey and having met a sailor a few years older who regaled him with life in the navy, he was hooked and left the construction industry and enlisted in the military in 1982.

Thirty three years later, Chief Petty Officer 1st Class Norman Cawthra was recognized and appointed to the Order of Military Merit in October 2015. He was invested as a Member by his Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General and Commander-in-Chief, at an investiture ceremony at Rideau Hall on June 3.  He was nominated by Commander Sea Training Pacific, Cdr Chris Peschke.

CPO1 Cawthra’s career in the navy has been varied and rewarding. He first served on the HMCS Mackenzie, followed by the HMCS Saskatchewan. He obtained his Ship’s Diver Qualification and was a member of the West Coast Naval Gun Run Team. He volunteered for submarine service and was posted to Halifax and served as radio supervisor aboard submarines HMCS Okanagan and HMCS Onandaga.

His career led him to New Zealand for a two month exchange, deployment to the Persian Gulf and became one of the first NAV COMMs in the fleet when the communications trades amalgamated.

He received a DGMEPM Special Award for exceptional and distinguished contribution to the submarine program. In 2008 he became the Chief Naval Communicator at Sea Training Pacific.

In August 2014, after two years onboard ship, including a tasking as the Detachment Forward Coxswain in support of HMCS Protecteur after the onboard fire, and as the RIMPAC CCPO, he as appointed to his current position of Coxswain of Sea Training Pacific.

CPO1 Cawthra is a humble sailor and said, “there is not one thing that earned me specific high level recognition.”

“I contribute my successes in the military to the unwavering support that I have received from my family, especially from my wife Cindy, who always supported me, took care of the home, and raised our son Ben and daughter Autumn in my constant absences.”

Cawthra said he met his wife in Halifax in 1990 while she was serving in the navy as an administrative clerk.

“She gave up her career in 1995 to raise our children,” he said.

When not onboard ships or serving in the military he enjoys time with his family, and doing typically “Canadian” things such as hiking, camping, traveling and building things.

Orders of Military Merit were also handed out to 12 Officers and 40 Members.  Cawthra was the only Member from British Columbia. The Order honours them for their commitment to Canada, according to the following three levels of membership: Commander (C.M.M.), Officer (O.M.M.) and Member (M.M.M.)