As with any organization, leadership can change, but the core fundamentals established from the beginning must remain. The key issues and challenges presented in commanding a Reserve unit can test even the most professional solider. It is the ability to leave the unit in a better position that is the true test of a Commanding Officers influence. From the standing up of 37 Combat Engineer Regiment in March 2012, LCol. Bruce Parks has shown all the troops under his command what true dedication is and how strong leadership results in positive progression throughout the entire Regiment. LCol Parks balanced his family life with a long career in the Canadian Forces. LCol Parks is happily married to the former Tamera (Tammy) Campbell of Oromocto with two daughters, Kristen and Malinda.
LCol Parks graduated from the Royal Military College with a Bachelor's Degree in Chemical Engineering. His initial tours were to the Construction Engineering Section at CFB Gagetown, 5 Regiment du Genie de Combat, Valcartier and 4 Combat Engineer Regiment, Lahr, Germany. During his tour in Germany, he attended the Canadian Land Force Command and Staff Course. In 1983, he completed a tour with the United Nations in Cyprus as the Canadian Contingent Engineer.
On promotion to Major, he was posted to FMCHQ Montreal in 1987. During Exercise RV 89, he was employed as the Divisional Engineer Group G3. LCol Parks took command of 45 Field Engineer Squadron, Sydney NS in 1989. In 1992 he was posted to Land Force Atlantic Area Headquarters, Halifax. During this posting, he completed a six-month United Nations tour in Croatia as the Canadian Contingent Support Group Engineer. Following attendance at the Canadian Forces Command and Staff College in 1994-1995, he served as the Executive Assistant to the Commander Land Force Central Area.
LCol Parks took command of 4 Engineer Support Regiment in 1996. His two years in command included deployments to Winnipeg for the “Red River Flood” and to St Jean for the “Ice Storm”. He was promoted to his current rank on 24 June 1998.
After completing a six-month United Nations tour in Bosnia at the Mine Action Centre in Sarajevo, he assumed the responsibilities of Area Engineer at Land Force Atlantic Area Headquarters, Halifax NS in 1999. After the Area Engineer staff transferred to Gagetown in 2000, LCol Parks assumed command of the Construction Engineer Branch and then carried on to the appointment of Chief of Staff of 3 Area Support Group in August 2004.
LCol Parks transferred to the Reserve Force on 16 November 2005 and held the position of Officer Commanding Reserve Engineer Training Squadron at CFSME until February 2007. He took command of 3 ASG Administration Branch and the responsibilities of 3 ASG G1 from March 2007 until September 2010. He then became the Project Officer for the stand-up of 37 CER.
After completing a seven-month deployment to Kabul, Afghanistan (Op Attention) in February 2012, LCol Parks took command of 37 CER on 31 March 2012 and has fully enjoyed his thirty three months of command. LCol. Parks retired from the Canadian Army in December 2014.
With such an experienced and well-rounded soldier retiring from command of 37 CER, the unit needed a new Commanding Officer who could continue to lead the unit in the right direction. One of the best ways to gain respect of troops is to train alongside them and experience the same struggles that may only be seen within the ranks. What better successor to LCol Parks could 37 CER find than someone who started out as a Private and over the years has worked his way through the ranks.
LCol. Jonathan Penney was born in St. John’s, NL and Joined 56 Field Engineer Squadron as a Private in December of 1993. By the summer of 1994, following his basic engineer training, LCol. Penney was promoted to Sapper.
LCol. Penney served as a Non-Commissioned Member until 2005. In April 2005 he received his commission, was promoted from Sergeant to Lieutenant and given the position of Field Troop Commander. In April 2007 he was promoted to Captain and during the following September was successful in becoming a full time officer at 56 Engineer Squadron. In this role he filled the positions of Operations Officer, Adjutant and Deputy Commanding Officer.
LCol. Penney deployed on OP LAMA in October 2010 as part of the Hurricane Igor relief in NL where he was employed as a Senior Duty Officer. Followed by a deployment on OP ATHENA, Kabul Afghanistan, in 2011 where he was the Chief of Knowledge Management for NATO Training Mission Afghanistan.
He received a Land Force Atlantic Area Commanders commendation for his efforts during OP LAMA and a Task Force Commander commendation for his achievements during OP ATHENA.
On the 31st of March 2012, during the stand-up of 37 Combat Engineer Regiment, LCol. Penney was appointed as Officer Commanding 56 Engineer Squadron.
This past August LCol. Penney was employed as Battle Group Operations Officer during Ex Strident Tracer, the 5 Division collective training Exercise in Gagetown NB.
LCol. Penney’s civilian career was complemented by his military career. In December 1999 he graduated from College of the North Atlantic with a Diploma in Industrial Engineering Technology and in January 2000 he was hired by NewTech Instruments Ltd. as a Quality Assurance Technologist and by 2005 was the Production Planner for the company. In 2007 he put his civilian career on hold to serve full time with 56 Engineer Squadron. LCol. Penney has recently returned to his civilian career and is currently a Quality Specialist with GJ Cahill. LCol. Penney resides here in St. John’s with his wife Patricia and children Jack and Abigail.
With the exchange in command of 37 CER the unit looks forward to what LCol Penney can bring to the table. His experience and leadership will no doubt lead to a bright future for the men and women of 37 CER.