26503 A/Sub-Lieutenant Luke Brannigan from Panet House to MARS Training

26503 Acting Sub-Lieutenant Luke Brannigan from Panet House to MARS Training

Regular readers may recognize the name Luke Brannigan. Luke has been working with us at e-Veritas over the past few months while he was going through a career change. He is very handy with a camera and the pen. Anything we asked him to do he performed at a very high level always with a nice smile on his face.

He has a great sense of humour never one to take himself too seriously as you will note from his replies below.

Luke has recently arrived at CFB Esquimalt to start a MARS course within a few weeks. We will miss him and wish him much success in this next step in his career.

What were your inspiration & motivation to attend RMCC?

For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to join the military. I had a great uncle who was a navigator in bomber command during the Second World War; he was the first Canadian to be lead navigator of an RAF 1000 bomber raid over Germany. I grew up watching movies like The Longest Day and A Bridge Too Far and read every book that mentioned the Second World War that I could get my hands on, and because of this, and though it sounds cliché, I joined to serve queen and country.

What is your most favourable memory of your time at RMCC?


My most favourable memory of RMCC has to be the friends, who over the last four years have become a second family. Whether it’s been waking back across the causeway at some ungodly hour or sitting, sleep deprived, in a water filled trench in Gagetown, watching and laughing as the next trench over fills with CS gas, its the friends that I’ve made here that are what makes the memories amazing.

What is your most disappointing memory of your time at RMCC

Hands down my most disappointing memory was being told that I would have to do an extra semester. It was disappointing because not only would I be sticking around for an extra semester, but all of my friends would be graduated and posted out. I was disappointed by this until I went to the Vimy Dinner in Ottawa this past November and met many senior officers, both retired and still serving, who either failed out of RMCC or had to do an extra semester. Talking to them was almost like joining a second club within the RMCC alumni and showed that an extra semester was far from the end of the world.

What changes would you like to see at RMCC which would make it a better overall experience for those who will be following you?

A change that I would like to see is the reinstatement of the live off program for fourth years. Most cadets come to RMCC straight from high school and have never experienced paying rent and utilities, cooking for themselves, or buying groceries. As a newly minted junior officer you already have so much to learn, you should not have to learn how to live on your own as well. Letting fourth years in good standing live off would allow them to learn the basics that any functioning adult should have while still having the cushion of RMCC incase anything does go wrong. Some believe allowing senior cadets to live in town would affect the comradery of the squadron, however, during my first year, when living off was still an option, the fourth years from my squadron would host our squadron parties and made sure to keep the comradery tight. Once you get to a unit, you will have soldiers, 18-40 years old, coming to you with problems ranging in everything from debt to divorce and you will have to help provide them with guidance that will drastically affect their life. I feel that it would be a lot easier to help them if we had some experience, even as short as 8 months, of living and fending for ourselves to draw upon.

What books influenced you most as a student and how?

The book that has influenced me the most, not just as a student, but as an officer, is Mark Of The Lion: The Story Of Capt. Charles Upham, V.C. And Bar by Kenneth Sandford. Mark Of The Lion is the biography of New Zealander Charles Upham who was awarded the Victoria Cross twice for actions in Crete and North Africa during the Second World War. The only combat officer to receive the medal twice in the history of the V.C., even as a company commander, Captain Upham led his troops from the front, usually with a sack filled with grenades. Captured after the Battle of Ruweisat Ridge, Egypt, in July 1942, where he won his second V.C., Capt. Upham attempted escape attempt after escape attempt until he was finally imprisoned in the infamous Colditz Castle till the end of the war. While Upham’s extraordinary feats of heroism are unparalleled, they are rivaled by his unwavering devotion to his troops, duty, ability to disagree with those he thought were wrong, and humility. These characteristics and the many more examples of his leadership that fill the pages of Mark of The Lion have influenced how I hope to lead as an officer. On a closing note, when Upham’s second V.C. citation reached King George VI, he asked Major-General Howard Kippenberger “Does he deserve it?” Kippenberger replied, “In my respectful opinion, sir, Upham won the VC several times over.”

What– in your opinion– makes a good leader?

There’s been thousands of books and studies written on what makes a good leader, but for me, there’s a few simple principles:

– Have a sense of humour

– Don’t be incompetent

– Know your job

– Don’t be a prick

– Look after your troops and they will look after you

– Keep it simple stupid

– Always look cool

– Don’t get lost

– If you do get lost, make sure you look cool doing it

And three principles that a US colonel recently passed on to me:

– Give your best in everything

– Tell the truth

– OWN it

What does TDV mean to you?

T: Tell the truth and be truthful to yourself. D: Carry out your duty to Canada, the mission, your men / women,  and yourself to the best of your abilities. V: Great courage in the face of danger, “Valor is strength, not of legs and arms, but of heart and soul; it consists not in the worth of our horse or our weapons, but in our own.” – Michel de Montaigne

What is your ultimate goal after leaving RMCC?

Well my recent career shift has changed my ultimate career goals but one day it would be pretty cool to rule a small nation. More likely though, I hope to get an exchange with the New Zealand Defence Force, be a member of a DART, and maybe one day end up as an ambassador.

What inspires you to be the person you are today?

The flag on my shoulder, service to queen and country, my buddies beside me… oh and steak Thursdays.