15582 Heather Thorne-Albright: Went from Recorded Warning to Four Bars

15582 Heather Thorne-Albright ADC/CWAdO – Class of 1986

I have to admit, when I was asked to write about myself for this issue I was a little hesitant. I am proud of the career that I have had and the choices that I have made but I find it quite daunting to write about myself. To be selected for “bar slate” came easily for some, but not for me. I had a Review Board in Chilliwack and I was on Recorded Warning in First Year at RMC; so imagine what it meant to me to graduate with First Class Honours and Four Bars.

I remember telling the First Years during our Winter Slate introductions that “Bar Wars” had been pretty intense that year and as they could see……I lost! CWAdO was probably the most dreaded bar position to get. Life as an Aide de Camp had been busy and I was so looking forward to being a slasher. I can still see my Squadron Commander, then Capt Natynczyk, laughing across the table from me in the Mess Hall when the slate was announced and they called my name. But it allowed me to work closely with Colonel Harky Smith and I will cherish that time and that learning opportunity always.


Like so many others, I joined the military to see the world, but my first posting following graduation was less than an hour away from my home town, Base Transportation at CFB Toronto. From there I got an overseas posting, to Gander Newfoundland! It was lovely but life got much more interesting when I was posted to 3 Air Movements Squadron in Ottawa. Not only did I get to meet the Queen and various Heads of State but I got to really give back in Africa, Russia and the former Yugoslavia on Humanitarian Aid Missions.

Even better, I met this handsome CELE Officer, David Albright, and we have been married over 22 years and have three children.

When our daughter Cassie was born with Down Syndrome (photo above proudly kissing mom on promotion to Colonel) it significantly changed our family dynamics. My husband and I joined the National Capital Region Down Syndrome Association and served on the Board of Directors at different times. But the pace was really hectic and work life balance was hard to achieve. So in 2008, I transferred from the Regular Force to the Air Reserve and served for nearly five years as the Coordinator of the Canadian Forces Liaison Council Secretariat. After two years in the Directorate of the Air Reserve, this past summer I was appointed by the Commander of the RCAF as the first RCAF Family Advocate. My parents taught me early on the importance of family and this position gives me the chance to help find solutions for many of the challenges that military families face. With our daughter Lauren at University and Cassie and Mason at different high schools, I know a bit about family challenges.

The Class of 1986 has the big 3-0 this fall. Time has gone by so quickly. I am happy to say that I am still in touch with many of my classmates and I am expecting that we will have an awesome Reunion in September. See you there.


  • Mike Kennedy #12570

    February 28, 2016 at 4:12 pm

    Notwithstanding the initial difficulties she may have had at the outset of her military career, it seems clear that Heather went on to do extremely well, both at the College, and in her later life in the armed forces.

    Moreover, having been the parent of a special needs child myself (in my case, a daughter who was multiply handicapped, and who passed away at age four and a half) I think I can appreciate just how challenging it can be at some times. Again, it looks like Heather and her family have done remarkably well.

    As a member of one of the first classes at RMC that included women (she would have entered six years after I did in 1976) I can well imagine that life at the College in that era wasn’t easy for Heather and her female classmates. I congratulate Heather for all her accomplishments in life, and wish her and her family all the best in the future.

  • Helga Grodzinski #15566

    February 29, 2016 at 11:28 am

    Well done, Ma’am! ( Or may I say Toutie?) See you at 30 (gulp!) and best wishes always!
    Helga, fellow 86’er

  • Daryl Tremain

    February 29, 2016 at 2:10 pm

    Heather, I had no idea you had been ‘marginal’ at the very beginning of your career. It is a good lesson in not judging others (or ourselves) quickly – whether in an institutional setting or a personal context.

    Your resilience 30 years ago is obviously a solid element in your character: it is inspiring the way you have faced and managed life challenges with compassion, good-humour,success — even enthusiasm!

    Glad to hear from you via Veritas; see you in September, Daryl

  • Alden Estey

    February 29, 2016 at 3:21 pm

    Hi Heather, Like many young people who enter the gates of RMC for their very first time there is no doubt Rook term was a bit of a shocker for you. However, you held it together where many could not, and it is wonderful to see that you went on to such a successful career. R Flight was such a tremendous group of young men and women, we were very proud of you all. So hello to the others for me at the big 30.

    Alden Estey
    CFL R

  • Jason Donville

    February 29, 2016 at 3:25 pm

    The investment that our nation made in Heather many years ago has been repaid several times over. I love reading stories like this because it reminds me how lucky I was to attend an institution like RMC and to have such amazing people like Heather as classmates. JPD – fellow member of the class of 1986.

  • 16142 JJ Smith RR88

    March 1, 2016 at 2:59 am

    We would do well to reflect on the inspirational path so successfully marked by Heather and her contemporaries. Much work was done by them to secure a place for women in the defence of Canada. The lessons for that in the CAF’s overdue diversity strategy 2016 are manifold.

  • Kevin Bryski

    March 1, 2016 at 8:32 pm

    Great article. I am so proud of you and your accomplishments. You demonstrated great potential on your first year at RMC and I was fortunate to see you blossom. Dave and your kids are blessed to have you in their lives. Keep going and have fun at your 30th.
    13846 Kevin Bryski
    CSTO 6 Brant Sqn

  • Michel Perreault #15562

    March 3, 2016 at 10:27 am

    Hello Heather,
    This was a great article. You should be proud of your accomplishments with the CAF. It will be a pleasure to see you again and many others from the Class of 86 this coming Fall. See you at the 30th!