Peacekeeping, Cold War Era
LCdr G. David Thompson, CD, BA, GCGI, P.Log, RCN
Back in the era of steamships and green uniforms, with nothing royal or blue in sight, yet having gained an appreciation of all things naval in sea cadets, I joined the naval reserve in 1982 and trained as a diesel mechanic at HMCS YORK. In 1985, I traded in my coveralls for nicer smelling clothes, when I transferred to the Regular Force through the ROTP as a Maritime Surface/Sub-Surface (MARS) officer. I went to CFB Borden for basic training, a place I figured I would never see again. After graduating from the University of Toronto with a degree in History, I made my way to VENTURE, the Naval Officer Training Centre for MARS training, which included coastal operations in HMC Ships, QU’APPELLE, ORIOLE, CHIGNECTO, COWICHAN, and MIRIMICHI, followed by a far east cruise in HMCS YUKON.
After the Naval Operations Course in Halifax, I joined HMCS SAGUENAY, where my MARS career came to a screaching halt. I did not see the light and so the Career Medical Review Board made me a reluctant logistician. Karma then smacked me hard as I returned to Borden again and again and again for logistics training. In 1991, I joined HMCS FRASER as the Assistant Supply Officer and then the diving support ship HMCS CORMORANT as the Supply Officer in 1992. Divers are interesting people.
I finally went ashore in 1994 for my first real job in an office that did not move, when I joined the personnel staff at Maritime Command Headquarters as the Staff Officer Ever Changing Job Title. There, I worked on naval compensation and benefit policy management and development. I was also tasked with any grievance file with a dollar sign in it. My crowning achievement was the founding and editing of MATELOT, the Naval Personnel Newsletter (for which I received the Maritime Commander’s Commendation).
My career took an entirely new turn in 1997 when I was sent to the British Army for 16 months to improve my rugby and train as an Ammunition Technical Officer (ATO). In response to my request to return to Halifax where I owned a house, had lots of family support, and my lovely wife had a job waiting, I was posted over 5000 km further west to Canadian Forces Ammunition Depot Rocky Point which both me and my lovely wife considered a better option than Saskatchewan, the threatened alternative. Nevertheless, my lovely wife still occasionally reminds me that she walked away from a job with 13 years of seniority and would now have a 35 year pension, had we not moved to Europe. While at Rocky Point I took six months off to tour Bosnia and Hercegovina as the NATO ATO.
After four wonderful years of watching the deer frolic at beautiful Rocky Point, I moved over to Maritime Operations Group Four to take charge of logistics support to the Navy’s west coast orphans (non-self accounting units) where I took on the flood and built the best office I never had with both a window and a door! Next came a return to sea as the Supply Officer of HMCS ALGONQUIN where I ensured the hockey team had the best jerseys in the fleet and I went to Hawaii, again and again and again, but also Kitimat – unforgettable Kitimat.
The year 2007 saw the first move inland as I packed up the family and moved to Ottawa for the first time. A number of non-descript jobs and a UN tour to Haiti were followed by 18 months (which I will never get back) with the Afghanistan Public Hearing Support Team. Next was a posting to the Directorate of Relocation Business Management, where I was in charge of auditing and approving Brookfield relocation files, recovering overpayments and reimbursing under-payments. As I was doing this, my receipt of a misdirected email (it was supposed to have been sent to LCol Thompson) ended with me accidentally applying for a job at the Directorate of Honours and Recognition (DH&R). I got the job and I was sent to the Chancellery to assist Rideau Hall in the administration of the military valour and meritorious service decorations programs. Having a beer with the governor general was a unique experience.
I was then sent to the Director General Canadian Forces Grievance Authority in 2012, but that only lasted about eight months as I was then selected for a dream OUTCAN posting to NATO Maritime Command in Northwood, UK. More rugby and a rapid and extensive tour of Europe ensued which only left a desire for more. Shortly after returning to Canada in 2016, I took on my final Regular Force position as the RCN Ammunition Technical Authority, where I strived to keep the Navy from blowing itself up, despite its best efforts.
Although there were periods of doubt throughout my Regular Force career, for the most part it was a fantastic watch and I now sit in semi-retirement without regret. My current Class A position is an ideal way for me to keep my oar in the water, doing something that I enjoy and that I am good at, yet also allow me turn my attention to other things that make me happy. Career highlights have included the Gun Run, diving in a hard hat suit, diving in a submarine, diving even deeper in a submersible, helicopter rides over Bosnia, carrier landings both real and pretend, time in the UK, time at Rideau Hall and all the wonderful friends and mentors I have met along the way. Career regrets include never having had a port visit to St. John’s and never having been to Mrs Dunn’s or the Portland Rose Festival. My lovely wife (Ann) and I continue to live in Ottawa area where I divide my time amongst making sawdust, playing with my bicycles, playing bad hockey and DCFGA.