Army, Peacekeeping, Cold War, Remembrance, Operation, Careers
Capt Percy Purpura was born in Fort Erie, Ontario on 23 Oct 1946. He attended elementary and secondary school there. In May 1965, he joined the militia’s 57 Field Artillery Regiment (Royal Canadian Artillery) as a gunner and trained on a 105 mm howitzer in Fort Erie. He served six years with the regiment which eventually became 56 Fd Regt (RCA) and attained the rank of Sergeant. During this time, he deployed to Germany for three months with 1 Royal Canadian Horse Artillery Regiment as part of the first militia fly over exercise with the Regular Force. He spent one year (1971-72) with the militia infantry’s Lincoln and Welland Regiment after which he released from the militia. During this period, he attended Niagara College in Welland Ontario completing the Law Enforcement Program. He then attended Notre Dame University of Nelson BC and completed a BA in Sociology in 1972. In 1979, he moved to Masset BC working with the BC government and while there he became the Commanding Officer of the Masset/Haida Royal Canadian Sea Cadet Corps. From Masset, he joined the Canadian Forces Medical Services as an officer and completed Basic Officer Training Course in Chilliwack, BC in 1982. He was posted to the Regional Surgeon’s Office in Esquimalt, BC in 1982. HMCS Chaudière, although de-commissioned at this time, was still tied up along side. In 1983, he was posted to 1 Field Ambulance in Calgary, AB and during his three years there, filled the positions of Evacuation Platoon Commander, Operations Officer, Hospital Administrator and Adjutant. In 1985, he attended Military Staff School in Toronto. In 1986, he was posted to Canadian Forces Base Cornwallis (recruit basic training), Nova Scotia as the Hospital Administration Officer. In 1989, he was posted to the Canadian Forces Medical Services School at CFB Borden Ontario and during this time, functioned as an instructor, course director, Support Platoon Commander, and Standards Officer. In 1992, he attended basic French language training in Base Force de Canada St Jean PQ. In 1993, he was posted to the National Defence Medical Centre as the Administration Officer to the Chief of Medical Staff and later as the Personnel Administration Officer. While at NDMC, he deployed to the United Nations Peacekeeping mission in Bosnia and Croatia from October 1994 till April 1995 with the Royal Canadian Dragoons Battle Group and was the Operations Officer for the Advance Surgical Centre. In 1996, he was posted to the reserve unit, 23 (Hamilton) Medical Company, in Hamilton Ontario as the Regular Support Officer/Adjutant. In 1999, he was posted to the Area Surgeon’s Branch in Toronto and the Medical Operations and Administration position. In 2000, he was posted to the Canadian Forces Environmental Medicine Establishment co-located with the Defence and Civil Institute of Environmental Medicine/Defence Research and Development Canada in Toronto as the Adjutant/Security Officer. In 2005, he was posted back to the Area Surgeon’s Office of Land Forces Central Area/Joint Task Force Central as the Medical Operations and Training 2 position. In October 2005, he deployed with the Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) to Pakistan for earthquake relief and whose duties included Medical Platoon Administration Officer and Patient Evacuation Officer. He redeployed in early December 2005. He retired from the Canadian Forces in October 2006 and worked for the Department of National Defence, Directorate of Casualty Support Management, coordinating support for the sick and injured soldiers from Afghanistan until October 2011. He resides in Oakville and is now fully retired. Recently (February 2017) he travelled to Ypres Belgium where John McCrae wrote his poem “In Flanders Field”, then visited the Vimy Memorial, then D-Day Juno Beach Centre, then walked the beach at Dieppe, then visited John McCrae’s grave site in France and finally toured Bletchley Park where the code breakers deciphered Nazi messages using the Enigma machine during WWII.