Chasse-Galerie 2016, 8836 Clark Little: “Chance to finally payback Danny McLeod”
E3161 Victoria Edwards (RMC 2003) interviewed 8836 BGen (ret’d) Clark Little (RMC 1971), one of fifteen Ex-Cadets who will raise money for the Danny McLeod Athletic Endowment Fund by paddling a voyageur canoe from Ottawa to Kingston this September, 2016. You can make a pledge or donation at www.rmcclubfoundation.ca.
Victoria Edwards: Do you have any canoeing experience? Any lessons learned?
Clark Little: The summer of 1971 before starting pilot training, fellow graduate 8644 BGen (Ret’d) Jean-Michel Comtois (CMR RMC 1971) and I travelled by canoe from Ottawa to Kingston via the Rideau Canal waterway. I recall the trip was fairly easy going with the exception of ugly stretches of rough water north of Smiths Falls. We were fortunate to have boaters and cottagers offers assistance along the route, which made the voyage that much more enjoyable.
Victoria Edwards: This will be your 1st fund-raising canoe trip down the Rideau. Why was it important to you to support the Athletic Endowment Fund?
Clark Little: H25917 Major (Ret’d) Danny McLeod, the former RMC athletic director served with my father in the same regiment in the Canadian Army and were lifelong friends. I have fond childhood memories of Danny from very early years in Calgary in the late ‘50’s when I was attempting to play hockey!
As Director of Athletics, Danny was instrumental in saving my backside at RMC after I had a spot of trouble with academics immediately preceding third year Civil Engineering. He argued successfully during my Academic Board that I should be given the benefit of the doubt partially because of my undefeated boxing record (at the time) in Intercollegiate and Recruit Boxing. His words worked, and following a previously unprecedented dedication to studying, I met the terms of my strict probation and graduated on schedule in 1971. I am forever grateful for his intervention and this year, I thought it was about time I gave something back in his name to RMC.
I am also a dedicated convert to the power of sports in one’s life. I have learned from experience that continuous involvement sports of all types can help one navigate life’s unexpected challenges. The habits learned and formed in crucible of the RMC athletic programmes can serve one extremely well no matter where life takes you. I am happy to do anything I can to sustain and assist the RMC athletics programme so that youngsters behind me can develop the same value and love for athletic activities.
Victoria Edwards: What sports or activities did you participate in at Military College?
Clark Little: Apart from the standard intramural sports, I was on the varsity boxing team for all four years and picked up several trophies and an “Athlete of the Year” award along the way. In retrospect, it seems like the boxing team spent their entire life in the Old Gym – we started daily training in September and didn’t ease up until the completion of the varsity competitions in late winter.
Victoria Edwards: In your role as “e.g. drummer”, what are your recommendations for this canoe trip?
Clark Little: Yes, it’s true that I can hold a beat on a drum. Two years as the bass drummer in the RMC Pipes and Drums with the RSM “encouraging” you to keep a perfect cadence can do that to you. I’m not sure I’ll have an opportunity to carry the “cadence” on this paddling trip, but I’m always up to stepping in to relieve whomever draws that card.
Victoria Edwards: Outline your career progression since leaving the College. Any highlights?
Clark Little: I’m a former fighter pilot and retired Brigadier-General with 31 years of service under my belt. My entire operational flying career was during the “Cold War” while stationed in Baden-Solingen in Germany. I dabbled a little in electronic warfare both on the CF-104 and the new CF-18. In fact, I was responsible for the initial EW fit on the new CF-18’s. Along the way I managed to score a training gig at the US Air Force version of “Top Gun” school in Luke AFB, Arizona during which I flew alongside USAF Vets from the Vietnam War and a gaggle of keen, young F-104 pilots from the German Luftwaffe. I amazed everyone, including myself by being named best flyer and top student on the course.
I took a time-out from flying to study for a Master’s Degree at the University of Waterloo, and later helped out in the Operation’s Research Establishment in Ottawa before heading over to the CF-18 Programme office to work out the EW fit. Later, I served in two CF-18 Squadrons in Germany, the latter of which as Commander of 439 TAC(F) Squadron. I then spent a little time in Rhyiad , SA during the first Gulf War, before Commanding CFB Cold Lake several years latter. I retired from the Air Force from my position as COS Operations at Air Force HQ in Winnipeg in 1998.
I worked for several major military aircraft manufacturers before I settled into a lobbyist position in Ottawa within the prestigious firm of Hill and Knowlton, Canada. My time in Ottawa was cut short by a pesky bout of cancer, which I survived, thanks to surgery, chemo and a healthy attitude.
Victoria Edwards: Any lessons learned from your bout with cancer?
Clark Little: Absolutely! The cancer turned out to be a wake-up call for me that I needed to make some significant lifestyle changes if I was to make it through the first 5 years of recovery. I reset the markers with a regime that included frequent exercise, healthy food, doing things that I enjoyed doing, and finding a little happiness in my life every day. Post chemotherapy, my wife Barbara and I decided to take a hard left; we quit our jobs, cashed in a few chips, bought a 42’ sailboat, and spent 7 winter seasons exploring the Western Caribbean. We returned to the real world several winters ago.
Victoria Edwards: I’ve heard that you are busy in retirement. Tell me what keeps you active these days?
Clark Little: I seem to be busier now than I was when I was in a conventional “job”! Most of my focus today is on community service. I fundraise for The Meaford Hall and Culture Foundation ( www.mhcfoundation.ca ) and am also The Chairman and a founding member of The Barn Co-operative Network ( www.thebarncoop.ca ), a start-up business focused upon community health and wellness. I manage to keep active either hiking and road-biking in the summer, or skiing in the winter. I maintain a regular year-round yoga practice, and occasionally knock a small white ball around the beautiful links of Georgian Bay. Barbara graciously puts up with my frequent rants about American politics and unfair taxes, while lovingly making sure I never leave the house mixing checks and stripes in the same outfit – except when I golf!
A recently added benefit in our lives was the arrival of our new neighbours – a young Syrian family of six from a camp in Lebanon who are making their way in their new home and Country. Getting to know them and helping them build their new life is truly a breath of fresh air in our lives and reminds me daily of how grateful we are to be secure, healthy and happy.
Our aim at e-Veritas is to conduct one-on-one interviews with all 15 participants (in no particular order) over the next few months of e-Veritas editions.
8788 Geoff Bennett ‘71
8836 Clark Little ‘71
8926 Ray Hook ‘71
9143 Bruce McAlpine ‘72
12192 Tom Lawson ‘79
M0288 Roxanne Rees ‘83
8710 Chuck Lemieux ‘71
15566 Helga Grodzinski ‘86
22461 Claire Bramma ‘02
27173 William Carpentier (RMCC) ‘18
27369 Andréanne Tremblay (RMCSJ) ‘20