Battalions of cadets coming

By Riverine Herald

IT’S been 133 years since army cadets launched in Echuca.

And this year, they’ll be hosting a town-first.

The Echuca 301 Australian Army Cadet Unit will celebrate its birthday by hosting a massive military parade.

More than 200 cadets from across Victoria will gather to march on the hockey field behind Echuca College — the site where the local unit first began.

‘‘There will be pipes and drums as well — this is the first time this has ever happened in Echuca,’’ unit Lieutenant George Crocker said.

‘‘We’d love for everyone to attend this significant event.’’

The cadet unit was formed in Echuca on March 3, 1885, at the then Echuca State School before it was granted government approval on March 12 and raised on March 16. Since then, the unit has only flourished — and produced many of the recruits who kept our country safe.

‘‘Many cadets go on to serve in the Australian army or the Navy. There are many ex-cadets who served in overseas deployment, mainly in Vietnam,’’ Lt Crocker said.

He added Australian Army Cadets claim to be the best youth development organisation in the country.

‘‘We often get kids in at 13 and they stay until they’re 19,’’ he said. ‘‘The growth is just incredible. Sometimes they come in as ratbags but by the time they leave they’re just amazing.’’

Lt Crocker encouraged young people from across the region to join.

‘‘We teach bush craft, first aid, navigation and other survival skills,’’ he said.

‘‘They’ve also started learning how to use robotics and drones, plus do courses at Puckapunyal with the army.’’

The Echuca-first military parade will be held on Sunday, November 4 from 10.30am to 1pm.