Photo: By Brad Lowe
There’s a New Sheriff at RMC.
Under mostly bright, sunny skies and a warm muggy temperature the “Change of Director of Cadets Ceremony” took place last Friday, 1st August between (outgoing) Colonel JGB Ouellette and Lieutenant-Colonel AJ O’Keeffe. The Reviewing Officer was RMC Commandant, Brigadier-General Tom Lawson.
Approximately 80 officer cadets formed the RMC Guard combined with the band from HMCS Ontario adding a nice touch of pomp and ceremony to the occasion.
A large number of dignitaries, family and friends of both Colonel Ouellette and Lieutenant-Colonel O’Keeffe, combined with civilian and military staffs of the college were in attendance for the one hour event. The seating areas did not match a turnout similar to a Graduation Parade or a Reunion Weekend Event – nevertheless was impressive indeed!
Colonel Ouellette, Brigadier-General Lawson and Lieutenant-Colonel O’Keeffe – in that order all took time to say a few words mostly aimed at the officer cadets on parade – who were representing the 1,000 or so other cadets who are away from the college at this time of year.
Colonel Ouellette was very eloquent in passing on his thanks to a number of people who provided support to him over the past two years and in at least one case over his career. Brigadier-General Lawson was his usual sharp charismatic self in expressing his thanks to Colonel Ouellette and welcoming the former RMC Squadron Commander, Division Commander and most recently RMC Chief of Staff as the XXXVIII RMC Director of Cadets.
Lieutenant-Colonel (“Tony”) O’Keeffe holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Military Arts and Science from RMC, and a Masters of Arts Degree from the University of Oklahoma. He enrolled in the Canadian Forces in 1981 as a Private. In 1988, he was selected for commission under the OCTP as an Aerospace Control Officer.
Lieutenant-Colonel O’Keeffe is a member of the CF Sports Hall of Fame – being inducted in 2005. He is a World Class Athlete; a successful competitor at numerous Iron Man Competitions; Extreme Sports Competitor such as Race Across America and many Ultraman Triathlon Events on the World stage. One of his messages to the cadets on parade went something like this – “I will not expect anything from you that I would not expect from myself.”
Two upcoming fitness style events should be interesting and challenging for cadets. The first annual Army Run (5KM / Half marathon) scheduled for Ottawa, 21st September and. of course – the Annual RMC Harriers Run also slated for the early Fall.
The new DCdt, LCol Tony O’Keeffe wasted little time with meeting his military staff. The first working day following the Changeover Parade, the entire Military Wing Staff met to map out plans for the upcoming school year. From the start it was obvious to all in attendance that the straight- talking O’Keeffe has a brutally honest and a passion for the college and the well being of cadets that is unmatched.
The current Military Wing consists of a combination of highly motivated returning staff blended with a number of keen and enthusiastic newcomers. We had the privilege of attending the opening morning of the Military Wing Workshop. And what a morning it was!!!
Comdt, BGen Tom Lawson kicked things off with a rousing welcome to the 60 or so military and civilian staff members in attendance. A show of hands indicated about 1/3 of the staff are rookies although many of them are ex cadets.
BGen Lawson confirmed that 268 officer cadets are expected to make up the Class of 2012. This will be the largest RMC class since the mid 1990s when CMR & RRMC were both closed due to Government financial cutbacks.
“Teaching our cadets to lead with distinction,” was the over whelming message delivered to the Military Wing Staff during the 55 minute Commandant address. …”know when to step in”… “Think strategically – think to two rank levels above.” – ” Truth to power” were among the several other important messages, the XLII RMC Comdt / fighter pilot passed on to the eager and attentive audience.
Staff had about a five minute break before the new DCdt, LCol Tony O’Keeffe took over the podium. Like he did just 48 hours earlier during the K-Town Triathlon (where he finished second – see Quotes), LCol O’Keeffe displayed energy and enthusiasm in quickly setting the pace in what promises to be an exciting and fruitful year for cadets and staff alike.
DCdt sprinkled his talk with phrases like: “The light will shine on you.” “Think yourself confident – You are what you believe”. LCol O’Keeffe emphasised that the Military Wing focus would be:
Cadet led activities;
Leadership by example;
Active participation in Cadet Wing activities;
Focus on mentoring & coaching;
Near the end of his address, he challenged the group with – “I will be asking you to do more than you think you can do.”
We had a previous commitment which forced us to depart early. The Workshop wraps up Friday afternoon – I’m hoping to get another invite before the end of the week.