OCdts. On Parade

Commodore Ron Lloyd, 15141, (RRMC 1981-85)

After graduating from RRMC in 1985 Cmdre Lloyd was trained as a navigator and navigated HMC Ships IROQOUIS, YUKON, TERRA NOVA, and ANNAPOLIS before joining VENTURE. Through the course of his career he has been deployed to the Arabian Gulf several times, and has been commanding officer of CHARLOTTETOWN and ALGONQUIN. In 2008 he was promoted to Commodore and in March 2009 appointed as the Commander Canadian Fleet Pacific.

For a more detailed biography, visit: http://www.navy.forces.gc.ca/marpac/10/10-w_eng.asp?section=10&category=77&id=1044

This interview was conducted by Royal Roads University staff person, Karen Inkster, and is part of the Royal Roads Oral History Project, a university initiative to preserve the military history of Royal Roads. Please contact Karen at karen.inkster@royalroads.ca if you would like to contribute photos or stories to the project.

Karen: What made you choose to go to military college?

Ron: Good question! I grew up in small-town southern Alberta and the military’s not that prevalent. I went to the school counselor and saw a recruiter and he said “You know if you want to become an officer in the Canadian military the best thing to do is probably pursue one of the military colleges”. So went and found out some information on what military college is all about and thought it would be a great opportunity and so that’s how I ended up at Roads.

Karen: And how did you choose that you wanted to be in the navy?

Ron: Well the navy, I must confess, wasn’t my first choice sadly. You know once again having not had the experience I sort of put down air force, army, navy, but here it is 28 years later, still in the navy! Very early on when I got into Roads, I did some training and then went and did some basic MARS training and after my MARS 3 course I wouldn’t have changed to any other occupation because of the leadership and the opportunities that you get at a naval officer at such a young age so I’ve stayed in the navy and had an excellent time.

Karen: Tell me about the process to come in.

Ron: It’s interesting because when I went to the recruiter I thought I was going to military college. And you didn’t know where they were or anything like that and so I went to basic training, sat down with my platoon officer and he said, “Okay, you know Officer Cadet Lloyd, you’ll be going to civilian university” and I said, “Civilian university? I thought I was going to military college.” And he said, “No, no, no, you’re going to civilian university” and I thought that was kind of interesting particularly since I’d never applied to any civilian universities. So I had to quickly dash from that interview and call my mum and say, “Hey mum, can you quickly put some applications in to the University of Lethbridge and University of Calgary to see how this all unfolds” and then slowly and surely over the course of basic training an opening became available at military college and that’s how I ended up at Roads – so a little bit of a convoluted process but that was my recollection of coming to Roads so it was very much last minute.

Karen: And how did your family feel about it?

Ron: Oh you know not having any insight into what the military was about and even when I graduated from school you know they sort of mentioned I was going off to military college and in the mid and early ‘80s there was very little awareness really across the country in terms of what the military did. You know it’s considerably different today with Afghanistan and Winnipeg’s experiences over Somali counter-piracy but back then I’d say there was very little awareness of the Canadian military.

Karen: So what were your impressions when you arrived here?

Ron: It’s funny because Dave [Bindernagel] (9318) and I were just discussing that you thought basic training was hard and so you come over to Roads and you go “Wow, this is a beautiful place” and then the fourth year gets on the bus, opens it up, and then squares you all off in short order and you know the panoramic vista that you see coming over the hill is but a blur compared to: OKAY! YOU’RE HERE NOW, ROYAL ROADS CADETS! And then right into recruit term which was a glorious month in itself.

Karen: Tell me about that.

Ron: Well in terms of beginning to know oneself and their friends and bonding I don’t think there’s probably any better exercise than one month of being put through the paces and my recollection of recruit term was of camaraderie – you know, the challenges, the issues, the physical fitness that they put you through in retrospect I wouldn’t have changed it at all. At the time we could have quit after about day two! Getting up early to run circles in the morning, the extra dress inspections after supper and studying and all that was really quite interesting particularly when you compare it to today. Of course those that you interviewed in the forties and fifties would say that we had it slack as well so I guess there’s a gradual progression of standards if you will but no, it was a fantastic opportunity. It really got to let you know what you’re made of – in every sense of the word.

Karen: So what do you think made you stay if it was so hard?

Ron: Well in terms of what makes you want to stay is being a first year and seeing what the fourth years have and the opportunities. You know you can’t find a better location to go to school. Coming to Roads you found out that it was very tight knit, lots of leadership opportunities, you get a degree, which was sort of third or fourth in terms of your initial experiences and the fact that you belonged to a flight and then a squadron – you know you’re a Hudson for life. You got to know those 20 guys very, very well and you just wanted to stick around and be with them for the next four years.

Karen: Now I think you were here when lady cadets came.

Ron: That’s correct – in my fourth year was the first year they had female cadets here.

Karen: And what was that experience like?

Ron: In terms of the experience, as you can imagine, with the introduction of anything new to an institution, there are going to be growing pains and the like so in terms of whether it was good or bad, it wasn’t good or bad, it was just different. And so at the time there were different changes and having been in an institution very much based on tradition some things had to change and there were those that dealt with change well and there were those that didn’t. So there were some challenges from that perspective but from my very narrow view on the process I seem to recollect that it went well.

Karen: Did all of your classmates do the four years?

Ron: No, I think in terms of the class, I can’t even tell you how many graduated but in my flight only five of us stayed the four years and then others went to RMC and so you know after you did your two years and then you went off to engineering and those other programs cause I think it was only like three programs available for the full four years when I was at Roads and so by and large the majority of our class went to RMC.

Karen: So which program did you take?

Ron: I did the military and strategic studies program which, when you talk to the engineers and like that, a buck fifty gets you a cup of coffee (chuckles). But in terms of the military and strategic studies program it was an absolutely fabulous degree and it stood me in very good stead in terms of preparing me for becoming an officer in the Canadian Forces so you know, well rounded, teaches you to write, think and stuff like that so no complaints about the degree program at all.

Karen: What about faculty and professors – any that stand out for you?

Ron: Well there always are and Dr. Boutilier in particular. It was fascinating to watch him give you a lecture – without any notes – just sitting much like I am right now, leaning on a desk perchance, going through you know a WW II battle and he would end the lesson: “And on June 6 that’s how the day concluded.” And the weekend might go by and then he would walk in on the Monday or the Tuesday whenever the next class was and he’d go: “On June 7…” and without notes and just provide this absolutely illuminating lecture to the class. It was great! Dr. Rodney of course, a master mariner, was also very memorable in the sense of being Welsh and the like and “Mr. Lloyd, glad to see you could join us today.” And then Dr. Martell who came back after a year’s sabbatical and says, “Ah Mr. Lloyd it’s good to see you because all I remember from first year is the part down the centre of your head as you slept through class!” So there were a lot of very memorable teachers and professors at Roads. It was a very tight knit community, there was a great deal of camaraderie. It goes on and on in terms of the memories.

Karen: What were some of your most memorable moments here?

Ron: Well as I say to many they were the best four years of my life, (not being married, so that my wife doesn’t kick me or hit me!) were definitely at Roads. So in terms of memories – I haven’t been back here for a number of years – so as you come over the hill they just come flooding back. Meeting my wife here was obviously a prominent memory in terms of coming down the Nixon Block and meeting her for the first time. The other more memorable moments were having a car, I can’t remember the year, a Pontiac Parisienne and put a cammo over it and made it look like a tank during escape and evasion. And my buddy was on the top of the roof and I couldn’t even see out the front window. So he was telling me how to drive, left – right, left-right, you know; putting a C7 on the back of the bumper and then taking off and forgetting about it and losing a weapon and standing four extra duties. And then standing four extra duties because of not remembering the traditions and stuff like that, so you know all the way from the very good to the very bad.

Karen: So how did you meet your wife ?

Ron: Oh it was one of my classmates here, Mike Addison, he and his girlfriend said “You know there’s an opportunity to go to the ball with one of my girlfriend’s friends, would you be interested?” And so it was sort of a blind date and the first step was I played on the hockey team as a goalie and so sort “Would you like to sort of go to a hockey game before we go”, just to get to know each other and haven’t looked back.

Karen: So what impact has Royal Roads had on your life?

Ron: Oh it’s had a lasting impact in terms of the discipline that you were afforded here and just setting yourself up – you almost want to say, “as a man” really – because at age 18, you’re very impressionable and going through those years but more importantly and above all that is the friends that you make here. It’s amazing – I guess we’re coming up on our 25th reunion now and you know the guys that I went to school with here are still my best friends today that we get together with. And they’re out of the Canadian Forces – you know John Brett (15097), Tom Dakin (15102), live in the local area you know, still see lots of them, we’re still every bit as close today actually we’re going camping in a week and a half because you know that’s how close we are. Gordie Wight (15191) in Ottawa, you know we stay there and he’s got two sons basically the same age as mine, and so it’s always the friendships that you make that stand the test of time and those will always be the best memories from my perspective.

It was a real gem for Canada and the military to have this opportunity to train its young men and women, to give them the skills necessary to succeed in the military with an academic education and then the opportunity to maintain those friendships through a lifetime. Chris Mariner (15147) I guess is the one individual from our flight that passed away sadly in England during a training accident many years ago. By and large we’re still very, very close and that’s pretty much stuck with us throughout.

Karen: Do you think it’s important to preserve the military history here at Royal Roads?

Ron: I think it’s critical and everything that Royal Roads University does to preserve that is greatly appreciated by all of us that attended because you know a post-RRMC memory for me is my oldest son was baptized here when it was still RR Military College and had the chapel and so he was baptized here at Royal Roads. So for me it will always be Royal Roads Military College and failing that, Royal Roads University and the fact that there’s a museum and that the university has gone out of their way to keep this is very much appreciated by all of us that attended here I’m sure.

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