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Colonel Commandant, Colonel Roger K. St. John, OMM, CD 1944-2009

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Col Roger St. John, OMM, CD (Ret.)

It is with great sadness that we must inform you of the death of our Colonel Commandant, Colonel Roger K. St. John, OMM, CD (Retd) on 15 September 2009 in Royal Columbian Hospital, New Westminster, BC. Colonel St. John has been the Canadian Military Engineer Branch Colonel Commandant since 16 January 2008.
Colonel St. John was born in Vancouver, British Columbia in 1944. In 1959 he joined the Royal Westminster Regiment and subsequently enrolled in the Regular Officer Training Programme in 1966 while attending the University of British Columbia. He graduated with distinction in 1969 with a degree in Forestry Engineering.

He subsequently undertook training at the Canadian Forces Fire Academy and in 1970 was appointed as the Fire/Crash Rescue Chief at CFB Montreal. In 1972 he was assigned to 1 Airborne Field Squadron in Edmonton, AB. This posting included a challenging peace keeping tour in Cyprus in 1974 that was extended by a Greek-inspired coup and the resultant Turkish invasion. In 1975 he was promoted to Major and posted to CFB Gagetown as the Commanding Officer of 22 Field Squadron. This was followed in 1977 by his assignment to NATO’s Central Army Group Headquarters in Heidelberg, West Germany.

In 1980, Colonel St. John returned to Canada to attend Staff College in Toronto. This was followed by his assignment to Headquarters, 1 Canadian Mechanised Brigade Group in Calgary, AB as G4. He was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in 1982 and returned to the Staff College as a member of the Directing Staff. In 1985 he was appointed as the Base Administration Officer of CFB Calgary where he was involved in a number of major projects including the ‘Museum of the Regiments’ and assisted in the provision of military support to the Calgary Winter Olympics. In 1988 he was promoted to Colonel and posted to National Defence Headquarters, Ottawa as the Director of Construction Engineering Control and in 1989 he was assigned to Pakistan as the COS of a United Nations humanitarian mine awareness and clearance training mission for Afghan refugees.

In 1991, Colonel St. John was posted to CFB Montreal as the Chief Engineer of Mobile Command. He was selected in 1993 to attend the National Defence College in Kingston, ON and was subsequently appointed as Base Commander of CFB Chilliwack. Base closure was announced in early 1995 and during the closure period he was assigned as the Deputy Engineer/Corps Engineer Brigade Commander of NATO’s Implementation Force in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina.

In 1998 Colonel St. John retired from the Canadian Forces and formed his own consulting company specializing in emergency management and business continuation planning. He has also undertaken several mine action contracts for the Department Foreign Affairs and International Trade and the Canadian International Development Agency in the Balkans and Africa.

Colonel St. John is a past President of the Rotary Club of Chilliwack and has been extensively involved in community service projects. He is a member of numerous associations and has served on the Board of the BC Corps of Commissionaires, Chilliwack Big Brothers, the Fraser Valley Regional District Planning Committee, and the Chilliwack Hospice Society Gala Committee.

Colonel St. John was appointed Canadian Military Engineer Branch Colonel Commandant on 16 January 2008.

First Dicky Belgrove, now Col St John.  All the old sappers I served under, and in some cases with, are moving on.  RIP sir, you will be missed.
Condolences sent by Canada Post should be addressed:

The St John Family
Attention: Adjutant
c/o 1 Combat Engineer Regiment
PO Box 10500 Station Forces
Edmonton AB T5J 4J5

Condolences send by email should be addressed to: Robert.Machin@forces.gc.ca
From the Chilliwack Progress:

ST. JOHN, Col. (Ret.) Roger Kenwood Tuesday, 15 Sep 2009 Chilliwack Progress Chilliwack, BC  OMM, CD (Retired)
Colonel Commandant,
Canadian Military Engineers
May 26, 1944 – Sept. 15, 2009
September 15, 2009 marked the loss of a great man, Roger Kenwood St. John. His passing was sudden and untimely.
Born May 26th, 1944 in Vancouver, Roger was a devoted husband, father, grandpa (Poppy), friend and community member as well as a distinguished member of the military.
After graduating from UBC with a Bachelor of Science, Forestry, he began his military career in 1969 with his first posting to Montreal. He went on to serve his country with true Engineering spirit during tours across Canada and Europe as well as several UN Peace Keeping missions in Cyprus, Pakistan, and Bosnia. His final posting in 1994 was as Base Commander of CFB Chilliwack, where he oversaw the base until its closure in 1998.
He concerned himself with the well-being of all those leaving the base and went above and beyond to ensure that each and every one was taken care of. He was a soldier’s soldier and had a career filled with integrity and distinction including receiving the Order of Military Merit. He was also a citizen’s soldier as shown by his Honorary ‘Citizen of the Year’ award he received from the City of Calgary in 1987, in recognition of the instrumental role he played in creating the Calgary Centennial Arena and the Calgary Military Museum. The award stated that Roger “emerged as a model of good citizenship, forging a relationship between the citizens of Calgary and the members of CFB Calgary” and that “his community spirit would go with him wherever his career took him.”
This proved to be true and continued after his retirement when Roger enthusiastically involved himself in the community of Chilliwack, giving his time, energy and passion to many great organizations including; Rotary, Community Services, Chilliwack Hospice Society, BC Children’s Hospital and Big Brothers. Again his enormous efforts were recognized, this time being named a Paul Harris Fellow by Rotary International.
Most recently Roger was bestowed with the great honor of an appointment as Colonel Commandant of the Canadian Military Engineers. He was passionate about the Engineers and took his duties very seriously. He thoroughly enjoyed reconnecting with a new generation of Engineers and spoke often of his pride in their accomplishments.
As involved with the community and military services as he was, Roger always made time for those he loved most, his family and friends. He enjoyed fishing, spending time at his beloved cabin, traveling and creating adventures. He was enthusiastically looking forward to doing all these things with his grandsons and seeing the men they would grow into.
In hindsight, we now know that we are all fortunate Roger was an avid story teller. At times humorously long-winded, those who were lucky to hear him telling tales can now cherish them and keep his memory alive with their retelling.
He leaves behind many, many friends and colleagues who will miss him dearly. A painful empty space is left in the hearts of his family; his wife Joy, daughters Michelle and Danielle, sons-in-law Brian and Trevor, his grandsons, Benjamin, Jacob, Colburn and Evan and his niece Ann-Marie and her husband Paul.
Our only consolation comes from knowing, as a dear friend pointed out, “he was a happy and fulfilled man who was loved by all who knew him. He bypassed no opportunities and always followed his heart.”
A memorial service for Roger will be held Monday, September 28th at 1:30pm at the First Avenue Christian Assembly, 46510 1st Avenue, Chilliwack, BC. An informal celebration will follow.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Wheelchair Foundation Canada (www.wheelchairfoundation.org) or the Military Families Fund (www.militaryfamiliesfund.ca).
Condolences can be sent to the family via Lt Lu Li - Lu.Li@forces.gc.ca
I last met him this past April in the Westies Mess.

He was a picture of health as my self and other old Sapper's put on our helmet's with him and had one or two no name no pack drill story's.

It's a pleasure to know you Sir. :salute: :cdn: