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Cadets Called Him – Mister Tripp
By: WJO

“I have very fond memories of Mister Tripp. As a former CWTO and hockey player, I felt a special connection with him. He coached my drill commands in the long days leading up to Ex-Cadet ceremonies, with only short interruptions to bust my chops about being a hockey player and asking whether I knew it was a sword in my hand rather than a hockey stick. He had already enjoyed a very long and distinct career prior to his appointment as College Chief Warrant Officer; I think his experience allowed him to enforce such exacting standards while maintaining a very laid back attitude. He was perfectly suited to mentor snot-noses full of p— and vinegar like myself.”

19478 Phil Dawe (RRMC RMC 1994)

John (“Jack”) Tripp arrived at the train station in Douglas, Manitoba in July 1959. This prairie train stop area was comprised of a grain elevator and three houses which pretty well made up Douglas.

The prairie summer winds were brisk & howling and the temperature was hovering around 90 degrees (f) when a civilian driver from just up the road, Camp Shilo, loaded the wide eyed young Wellington, Ontario lad and his baggage into a van which would be the start of a 36 year military career.

Six months of “boot camp” followed. Artillery training in those days was pretty well a 24 / 7 routine. Consequently, he had little time to experience and enjoy the amenities of Douglas or the near-by metropolis of Brandon – a night on the town in Winnipeg was certainly out of the question.

Successfully completing his basic training Gunner Tripp was assigned to RCHA and posted to Camp Gagetown in New Brunswick.

In November 1960, RCHA was shipped off to Germany at the height of the Cold War. This was only one year before the Berlin Wall was constructed. The times were tense.
John F Kennedy was just elected president of the United States; Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev, had spoken at the United Nations General Assembly on October 11th when he pounded the table with his shoe. http://www.newstatesman.com/200010020025

The Cuban Missile crisis would follow a couple of years later, followed in November 1963 with the Kennedy assassination. Indeed for Gunner Jack Tripp and for the rest of us who were adults and, in particular, for those of us in uniform during those years, this era in our history was full of the unknown. As it turned out most of it was just sabre rattling. Much different, of course, with what is going on with our Canadian Forces and what has been happening for the last few years in many “hot spots” all over the world.

Military training was a constant part of every day life for RCHA in those days. However, Gunner Tripp found time to play sports for the Regiment on a regular basis. He excelled at both softball and hockey which earned him a reputation for being a fierce but fair competitor. He earned numerous individual and team awards for his talent and achievements on the ice and the ball field.

In addition, to all his army training and sports, Jack made the most important move of his life while stationed in Germany – he married Veronica Adams, 10 August 1963 – almost 45 years ago!

Jack progressed steadily through the ranks and finished up his career as a Chief Warrant Officer. Along the way, he had an extremely interesting military career. Among the highlights, included “two” postings at RMC; three different tours in Europe; RSM of the Language School at St Jean, PQ; and RSM of the Battle School at CFB Shilo.

Special assignments: He held a sensitive and important security position when Canada hosted the 1980 World Bank Conference in Toronto – which for the most part was hassle free from demonstrators due in no small part to the well organized security plan in which he was a big part. He also trained a 100 “person” Honour Guard which participated with distinction at the 40th Anniversary celebrations on the Landing of D – Day.

Both tours at RMC hold special memories for the now 13 year retired Mister Tripp, not the least being – he “marched off the square” with two different classes, as a honourary graduate – 1983 & 1994.

Marching Off with a Class, is a long time RMC tradition, and considered a high honour by “staff” of the college. It is an indication of how the cadets from these two classes – 11 years apart – thought of Mister Tripp.

Many staff have Marched Off – once, some of the most notables, that we recall are: CPO “Chief” Pitt; The Major, Danny McLeod; Lorne Windsor; Don Carrigan; AS “Alfie” Bake; CR “Cliff” Watt; Dave Honsinger; Dick Hartnett; FAther Marcoux; Brent Mills; Jim “the barber” Ryan; Chuck Beavis; and Jean Blanchet. Very few that we are aware of – have “marched off” twice or more.

MWO “Jack” Tripp first arrived at RMC in 1978 as the College Drill Sergeant-Major. The College Chief Warrant Officer at the time was CWO RJ Slaney. CWO Slaney was a professional soldier through and through and set the standard for both cadets and staff extremely high. The Cadet Wing as a whole through those late 1970s had a rare aura of smartness. CWO Slaney had much to do with this type of environment.

The first 32 lady cadets arrived at RMC in 1980.

14444 Dorthy Hector (RMC ’84) had this to say regarding some of her early memories regarding that big part of history. “Mr. Tripp was at the college when the ladies arrived…there are plenty of incidents on how he handled skirts, high heels, hair, purses, lack of pant pockets, bossums interfering with rifle drill, buttons then white piping or white piping then buttons… the list is endless and entertaining recalled the now City of Kingston Councilor. “It was interesting how when we first arrived we had to wear skirts and shoes on parade. There was a new meaning to “getting that knee up parallel to the ground”. Due to a few embarr”ass”ing moments, a uniform change occurred…we got to wear pants and boots!”

MWO Tripp and others certainly had their hands full in trying to integrate the women into the “drill & parades” routine at the college. Conversations with Ex cadets from that era and their memories of the Drill Sergeant-Major remember him for his humility and integrity. His commitment to the college in ensuring the successful integration of women into RMC was unquestionable.

Off to Europe in 1983 for his third “over-seas” posting it would be seven years before he returned to RMC. In 1990 he arrived as the College Chief Warrant Officer. For those of us who were on staff during that time period it was not difficult to notice the similarities of Mister Tripp and the classy Mister Slaney who taught him the ropes and his way around RMC some 12 years earlier.

“Jack” and his wife Veronica immersed themselves 100% into the RMC routine. Every college event of significance over the next four years – social / sporting / military was always attended by this husband and wife combination. They resided in the Gate House near the Memorial Arch and many a cadet on his / her way back from town would often “inadvertently” bump into Mr. or Mrs. Tripp and engage in a friendly conversation.

Jack and Veronica are back in Wellington. Jack’s 97 year old mother who lives near by takes up a fair amount of his time. He put his goal pads away for good about three years ago. He still finds time for golf & fishing although not so much that he would miss quality time with his two grandsons.

Mister is a basic form of address that indicates respect. For the cadets who attended RMC during the time periods that Jack Tripp was Drill Sgt/Major and the College Chief Warrant Officer, he epitomized what a professional soldier was all about. As one cadet mentioned, “…he had that way about him, which you just felt, calling him Mister Tripp was the proper thing to do.”

 
 

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15181 Mr Ronald J Stewart (RRMC 1985) attended Royal Roads Military College from 1981 through 1985 but left mid way through fourth year without graduating. Twenty years ago he was glad that he had not been commissioned, but his failure to earn that degree hounded him for a
long time.

He returned to the University of British Columbia to complete his degree with a view to become a high school teacher. He was allowed to transfer his senior level UBC credits and received a
degree of Bachelor of Science from the Royal Military College of Canada in 2006 that he had given up on 21 years before. He currently teaches math and physics at Pattison High School. Ron and his wife Kathleen and their Cardigan Welsh Corgi live in Tsawwassen, BC.

He still likes to play David Bowie and Freddie Mercury before he writes an exam.

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