They came roaring up on motorcycles, most wearing leather vests emblazoned with the Royal 22nd Regiment logo and the motto Je me souviens.
Veterans of the legendary Van Doos regiment of the Canadian Armed Forces visited three Montreal long-term care homes on Saturday, to say thank you to the soldiers deployed there and the health-care workers on the front lines in the battle against COVID-19.
Residents and staff watched from windows and balconies as the group of about 40 Vétérans R22eR members played Vive la Canadienne and O Canada from loudspeakers, before saluting and applauding the soldiers.
"Any of us could have done and would have done the same thing as they are doing right now," said Edith Miclette, a veteran who spent more than three decades in the Canadian Armed Forces.
"Most people here have served outside the country, sometimes overseas. We see what they are doing right now as a mission, as the same thing we did overseas."
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About 1,000 soldiers have been deployed to help understaffed long-term care facilities in Quebec and Ontario — most within the Montreal area.
"We are there to support them and to say thank you for their service," said François Rancourt, the vice-president of the Vétérans R22eR.
Some military members helping in the facilities have come down with the coronavirus.
The Department of National Defence says 28 Canadian service members — 12 in Ontario and 16 in Quebec — have tested positive for COVID-19.