The Ghost Squadron
The Calgary Leopard Tank Historical Squadron
The origins of the Calgary Leopard Tank Historical Squadron, or "Ghost Squadron" go back to 2016, when The Military Museums of Calgary, Alberta received a surplus Taurus ARV (Armoured Recovery Vehicle) to add to its growing collection of armoured vehicles.
Taurus ARV (Armoured Recovery Vehicle)
The ARV was a Canadian Army service vehicle designed to recover and tow armoured vehicles disabled by combat damage or mechanical failure during military operations.
This particular ARV had previously served in Afghanistan where it was used in support of operations with the Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians), B Squadron, who deployed there in Oct 2006 along with a squadron of Leopard C2 tanks.
When the ARV arrived at the museum in 2016, it was not a stripped down shell intended for a static display but a fully functional, completely equipped serviceable vehicle. The challenge that TMM faced at the time was that it had neither the resources nor manpower to keep the vehicle as an operational functioning artifact.
When members of the Calgary veteran’s community learned about this vehicle and discovered that it was in operational condition, a group of them got together and decided, on their own initiative, to volunteer to keep the vehicle in fully functional and serviceable condition.
With the formation of the “GHOST” Squadron, a synergy was created between the veterans and the the Army Museum of Alberta, providing it with the additional capability required for conducting an enhanced outreach program through the concept of a “Living” history with the general public.
The GHOST Squadron
The Calgary Leopard Tank Historical “GHOST” Squadron is a group of military veterans, many of whom served in deployments overseas, who have banded together as a group of volunteers to restore and maintain the Taurus ARV, the Leopard gun tank and other operational vehicles at The Military Museums in Calgary, Alberta.
The “GHOST Squadron is an enthusiastic group who collectively represent a deep wealth of historical knowledge of military vehicles supplemented by real life stories, bringing together a unique aspect of military and civilian cultures together. The group also does all their own fundraising for vehicle restorations and covers the cost of maintenance and operations of the vehicles themselves.
In a short time, the “GHOST” Squadron has become an internationally recognized group of multi-generational and dedicated experts on the Leopard tank and other military vehicles.
The “GHOST” Squadron has also established ties with other military museums such as The Ontario Regiment Museum and the Royal Canadian Artillery Museum. It has also established a close working relationship with a US museum (Battlefield Vegas) to provide technical assistance and conduct training courses for the U.S. museum staff on operating and maintaining their six Leopard tanks.
The “Ghost” Squadron pioneered a new innovative concept of public engagement for artifacts that involved more than just static displays. These have become known as “Living” memorials.
On September 10th, 2017, in a ceremony held at The Military Museums, the Taurus ARV was formally dedicated as a “Living” (i.e. Fully Operational) memorial to the memory of Corporal Nathan Hornburg (King’s Own Calgary Regiment), who was killed in combat in Afghanistan on 24 September 2007, as well as the soldiers who served and sacrificed during the Canadian mission in Afghanistan.
The ARV memorial, now known as the “HORNBURG”, is a “Living” embodiment of the definition of a citizen soldier. This vehicle tells the personal story of the life and death of a fondly remembered Canadian.
Having access to the vehicle, with its cramped quarters, unique smells and sound of the engine, will forever recall the historical record of Corporal Nathan Hornburg’s life and the service he gave to his country. He embodied the culture and ethos of being a Calgarian and represented a bridge between the military and civilian communities in which he served.
Legacy of the GHOST Squadron
The dedication and professionalism of the members of the “GHOST” Squadron is evident in the comradery and peer support they provide for each other, allowing them a venue to reconcile and heal from the experiences they had during their military service.
The benefit that this provides members of the “GHOST” Squadron, is an ability to continue to use the skills they acquired during their training in a meaningful and productive way that creates a legacy for future generations.
The unique and innovative “Living” history experience the “GHOST” Squadron provides, is giving the public a meaningful insight into the sacrifices made by our military in the defense of their rights and freedoms.