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Corporal (Ret’d) Bambi Gray

Bambi Gray was destined to serve. Born and raised in Kingston, Ontario, a city rich in military tradition and history, Bambi was already playing young supply technician with her father at the Princess of Wales’ Own Regiment Army Cadets Corps as she rumbled through the bins of the supply room at age five. By the time she turned 21, she had officially joined the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF).

Kingston, Ontario

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Joined

2012

Postings

  • Petawawa, ON

Key operational experiences

  • Poland, 2015
  • Iraq, 2017

Corporal Bambi Gray’s enrollment in the CAF was somewhat unexpected but not completely without reason. As her father brought one of her three brothers to Army Cadets when she was only five and he subsequently volunteered with the Cadets as Quartermaster, she spent the better part of her childhood in uniform. “I swore up and down that I didn’t want to join the military, because I had been going to Army Cadets my whole life, from age 5 to 18. I said I’d had enough of wearing a uniform.”

“I felt I wasn’t pursuing a career I truly enjoyed. I thought back to times in my life that I genuinely felt happy and I always ended up thinking about Army Cadets”

After graduating, high school, Bambi decided instead to follow in her father’s footsteps and pursue a career in corrections. After attending St. Lawrence College, she worked for a short period as a behavioural therapist. Something however didn’t feel quite right. “I felt I wasn’t pursuing a career I truly enjoyed. I thought back to times in my life that I genuinely felt happy and I always ended up thinking about Army Cadets,” she says.

Her enrollment took place in the Nation’s capital, in 2012. After successfully completing her military training, she spent her seven-year career based in Petawawa, where she was deployed twice. Her first deployment was to Poland, in 2015. This was followed by a tour in Iraq, in 2017. As a supply technician, Bambi enjoyed doing roles that were, not long ago, perceived to be unsuitable for women. This included operating heavy machinery or driving heavy military vehicles.

“I want to drive the forklift. I would like to get qualified on the large green vehicles. I would like to do the things that women normally don’t do.”

Bambi had the chance to have a conversation about her military service with Second World War Veterans Anne and Howard McNamara, a married couple. While discussing similarities, Bambi reflected on her own recent experiences about women in the military, and how it was unusual to see them perform labour intensive roles. However, over the past years, and especially since she joined, with the arrival of a new generation, this mentality has been changing.

“I want to drive the forklift. I would like to get qualified on the large green vehicles. I would like to do the things that women normally don’t do. At the start of my career, it was very admirable of me to do those things. But now, I’ve noticed, as time has gone by and times have changed, it’s normal. So there are a lot of women doing ‘male-dominant roles’ instead of having very specific administrative roles or medical roles.”

Bambi was released in 2018 and took advantage of Veterans Affairs Canada’s Education and Training benefit to work towards a bachelor’s degree at the University of Ottawa. She is currently in the process of operating her own gym in Amherst, Ontario, just outside of Kingston.

In reflection of her service and the service of previous generations of Veterans, she stresses on the importance of teaching younger generations about the sacrifices that were made by their elders. “I had a choice when I joined. When groups go overseas now, it is to educate and teach other Forces, as opposed to physically being involved in conflict” she says. “And I believe it is super important to continue to teach and commemorate so it doesn’t happen again.”

With courage, integrity and loyalty, Bambi Gray has left her mark. She is one of our Canadian Veterans. During the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War, Bambi Gray and Second World War Veterans Anne and Howard McNamara recorded a conversation about their service. You can listen to their podcast episode.

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