Don’s military experience began in the Militia in Oshawa in 1967, with a two year stint in the Ontario (Tank) Regiment as a Trooper. He graduated from the Royal Military College in 1974 with a BA in military history. In his second year he completed the basic parachute course in Edmonton. He was never entirely sure why he did that as he is terrified of heights!
In 1974 he joined The 8th Canadian Hussars (Princess Louise’s) in Petawawa where he learned the ropes as a reconnaissance troop leader. During the 1976 Olympics he led a Quick Reaction Assault Troop. He then served for two years as a recruiting officer before returning to the Regiment in 1979 as the Battle Captain of the new Cougar AVGP “A” Squadron. They were known as the “boat people” due the Cougar’s ability to swim. During this tour he was sent to Gagetown for the Advanced Gunnery Course that prepared him for his next duty as an Exchange Officer with the Queen’s Royal Irish Hussars in the UK and Germany 1981 -1983.
On return to Canada in 1984 he was sent to Land Staff College, Kingston, then as a staff officer to St Hubert, Quebec to write Armoured Doctrine where he was promoted to major. In 1987, he was posted to Lahr, Germany as a Leopard tank Squadron Commander.
In 1989, after the Advanced NBC Staff Officer’s Course, he was sent to the National Defence Headquarters in Ottawa. He was then appointed Commandant of the NBC School in the summer of 1991. This was a completely new challenge and entailed not only running a Canadian Forces School but re-organizing and re-establishing the Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Response Team, a national team which worked very closely with the RCMP Bomb Detachment in defensive operations against a growing international terrorist threat.
After three years at the School he returned to NDHQ as the Partnership for Peace training co-ordinator for the CF. This required him to spend almost five months of each year in Eastern Europe with our new “born again capitalist allies”.
In September 2005 he retired after 35 years in the Regular Army and began volunteering at the Canadian War Museum. He enjoys being in the LeBreton Gallery surrounded by all his steel girls and finds it is always a treat to speak to like-minded guests who come to visit.
He and his wife Laurie live in Ottawa with one son nearby. Their other son works in Calgary as a chemical engineer in the petroleum industry.
Don was named “Volunteer of the Year” for 2011. He recently published “Steel Ladies”, a book providing historical, technical and operational descriptions of all the tanks and armoured cars in the Canadian War Museum.