Col Roger Kenwood St. John, OMM, CD (Ret'd)
It is with great sadness that we must inform you of the sudden and untimely passing of our Colonel Commandant, Colonel Roger Kenwood St. John, OMM, CD (Ret'd) on 15 September 2009 in Royal Columbian Hospital, New Westminster, BC in his 65th year.
Colonel St. John had been the Canadian Military Engineer Branch Colonel Commandant since January 2008. He 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 Bachelor of Science, Forestry. After graduation, he undertook training at the Canadian Forces Fire Academy and his first appointment was as the Fire/Crash Rescue Chief at CFB Montreal. He went on to serve his country with true Engineering spirit during tours across Canada and Europe as well as on several United Nations missions in Cyprus, Pakistan, and Bosnia.
In 1972 he was assigned to 1 Airborne Field Squadron in Edmonton, AB. This posting included a peacekeeping tour in Cyprus in 1974. In 1975 he was promoted to Major and posted to CFB Gagetown as the Commanding Officer of 22 Field Squadron. This was followed by his assignment to NATO's Central Army Group Headquarters in Heidelberg, West Germany in 1977.
In 1980, Colonel St. John returned to Canada to attend Staff College in Toronto. This was followed by his assignment to Headquarters, 1 Canadian Mechanized 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 assisting in the provision of military support to the Calgary Winter Olympics. In recognition of the instrumental role he played in creating the Calgary Centennial Arena and the Calgary Military Museum he was awarded an Honorary "Citizen of the Year" from the City of Calgary in 1987. His citation notes that he had "emerged as a model of good citizenship, forging a relationship between the citizens of Calgary and the members of CFB Calgary."
In 1988 he was promoted to Colonel and posted to National Defence Headquarters, Ottawa as the Director of Construction Engineering Control. In 1989 he was assigned as the Chief of Staff of a United Nations humanitarian mine awareness and clearance training mission in Pakistan for Afghan refugees. In 1991 Colonel St. John was posted to CFB Montreal as the Chief Engineer of Mobile Command. He was subsequently selected to attend the National Defence College in Kingston, ON in 1993 and was then appointed as Base Commander of CFB Chilliwack. At Chilliwack, he oversaw the base from 1994 until its closure in 1998. 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 that specialised in emergency management and business continuation planning. He also undertook several mine action contracts for the Department Foreign Affairs and International Trade and the Canadian International Development Agency in the Balkans and Africa.
After his retirement from the Canadian Forces, Roger enthusiastically involved himself in the community of Chilliwack - giving his time, energy and passion to many great organisations including; Rotary, Community Services, Chilliwack Hospice Society, BC Children's Hospital and Big Brothers. Colonel St. John was a past President of the Rotary Club of Chilliwack and had been extensively involved in community service projects. He was a member of numerous associations and had served on the Board of the British Columbia Corps of Commissionaires, Chilliwack Big Brothers, the Fraser Valley Regional District Planning Committee, and the Chilliwack Hospice Society Gala Committee. His enormous efforts were recognised in his being named a Paul Harris Fellow by Rotary International.
Colonel St. John was appointed Colonel Commandant of the Canadian Military Engineers on 16 January 2008. 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.
A memorial service for Col Roger K. St. John will take place on Monday 28 September 2009 at the First Avenue Christian Assembly Church, 46510 First Avenue, Chilliwack, BC. Guests are asked to arrive by 1:30 PM for the start of the service at 1:30 PM. Dress for Serving Members is Service Dress 1A (with medals). Retired Members are encouraged to wear blazer/gray flannels (with medals). Guests are advised to bring a jacket and comfortable footwear for the open-air reception immediately following the service at approximately 4:00 PM at Case de Librico, 44843 South Sumas Rd, Chilliwack. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Wheelchair Foundation Canada (www.wheelchairfoundation.org) or the Military Families Fund (www.militaryfamiliesfund.ca).