Married Ex-cadets Return to Pass on Experiences
by M0917 Dean Fleet
The newest sqn commanders at RMC are married couple 21936 Lt (N) Amber Comisso (RMC 2001) and 22036 Capt Matthew MacMillan (RMC 2001). As one would suspect from their grad years, Amber, from Toronto, and Matt, from Stellarten, NS, met at RMC and were married shortly thereafter. They have endured the challenges of being a service couple, especially since they are from separate trades and elements, which can pose posting challenges. That being said, they did make a “pretty good run of it,” as Amber related how they managed to remain on the west coast for eight years. As a MARS officer, she worked out of CFB Esquimalt, where HMCS ALGONQUIN was her last sea posting before serving as the flag lieutenant for the Fleet Commander, whereas Matt flew Sea Kings with 443 Squadron which is co-located with Victoria’s civilian airport. Their various training schedules often found them running on different schedules, spending hundreds of days apart, however, they were twice able to sail together on the same ship (HMCS ALGONQUIN), which was in many ways precedent setting. This of course presented many new challenges unto itself, something which they were both cognisant of to the point that certain fellow officers did not even know that they were married, and even crew members were surprised during port visits to find that these two married officers who were consorting with each other were actually married to each other.
Immediately following his grad from RMC, Matt was able to undertake his masters in Defense Management and Policy, a joint program that saw him taking classes at RMC, Queens, and even at University of Victoria so that he could be close to his wife. Despite the challenges imposed by their careers, which they both enjoy, their marriage seems as strong and lively as any. Matt worked with his career manager to get posted to RMC, in a position which is traditionally reserved for a Tac Hel pilot. Two months later, Amber found out that she too was to be posted to RMC. This became a homecoming of sorts for them, as it is where they started their careers, their relationship, and they have since purchased their first home. They also mused at how the city has changed little in their absence, and still has many of the same faces, except now they can appreciate the restaurants of Kingston much better with a commissioned salary! They are looking forward to spending the next 2-3 years here with stability and being able to get reacquainted with their shared roots.
They both enthusiastically appreciate the importance of the opportunity they have been given to return some of their CF knowledge back to this institution. They understand well the challenges that their respective squadrons undergo on a daily basis, as so many of the issues that cadets face have long-lasting career implications. Yet the atmosphere of the college is alive and well and is the most favoured part of this couple’s return. “With the excitement that the cadets have about being here I can’t help but come to work excited as well,” quipped Amber, as Matt smiled in agreement and added that “every experience with his cadets, whether good or bad, is always different, and that helps to keep the job fresh and enjoyable as well.” Even their squadrons, 9 for Lt (N) Comisso, and 11 for Capt MacMillan, seem to enjoy having these spouses as their leaders, and the little extra bit of rivalry that comes along with it. To this extent, 9 sqn was quite proud to have beaten 11 sqn at tug-o-war during the Harrier weekend.
Having only been at the college for approximately two months, these two are working hard at employing the DCdts strategy of mentorship to the cadets; pushing leadership and administration down to the cadets’ level so that they may learn how it is done. For Matt, a type A personality from a trade that is very hands-on, this is a change of pace for him as he is learning to step away from the controls and focus more on the paperwork side of things. Still, they are both eager for the chance to not only assist their cadets in beginning their military careers at RMC, but to pass on the tools that they will need to be successful when they leave the campus. In this they have had to find that balance between strictness and kindness with their cadets, and how to seek out the main message in their interactions and put disciplinary matters within the larger context of the CF. Thanks to the tight bond that has formed amongst their respective squadron commanders, advice and assistance is always available for them, something for which they both are grateful.
In recent years these two have become involved in triathlons, which they have found fits very well into their days at RMC. As they are often required to work long hours in order to make time for their cadets, they are able to intersperse their training, for what is essentially three sports, throughout their work days. Furthermore, Matt is assisting with the triathlon club here at RMC, while Amber is looking forward to helping out with something she once enjoyed as a cadet: the drama club. They enjoy being back at RMC and try to remind the cadets of just what an opportunity they have here at the college. They admit that it would be tough coming to work if you didn’t enjoy it, but that has not been the case for them thus far, as they plan on staying in “as long as it’s fun.”