What ever happened to: Don McLeod Sr.

 

What ever happened to: Don McLeod Sr.

Article compiled from various sources

M0135 Don W McLeod (RRMC ’79) began a rewarding career in 1963. For 12 ½ years he was an aircraft electronics technician serving in Trenton and Baden-Soellingen. A highlight of that time was as a member of the Boeing 707 crew that took Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau to Asia for 30 days for the Commonwealth Conference in 1971. He says it was the trip of a lifetime! It was in Trenton that he first met 5780 Bernie Laliberte and formed a lasting relationship in subsequent years, including RMC.

In 1975 at Baden McLeod was approached to apply for the University Training Plan (Men) at a time when numbers of UTPMs at MilCol were significantly increasing as part of a trial.

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Reluctantly he agreed, never expecting he would be accepted to attend RRMC in 1975. It was there, with the support of then, Col Harv Roddick, Commandant, (McLeod’s former 1 CAG boss) and a very young family who still wondered what was happening that he “survived”. He met many young ROTP cadets who would become lifelong friends – names like Natynzyk, Pile, MacIsaac, Stephenson and Gimblett! Going from the responsibility of being a 12 ½ year aircraft technician to “a first year cadet” proved challenging to say the least.

Again, from 1977-1979, while at RMC, McLeod says he received the support of an accepting and understanding family and RMC staff such as H4860 John DeChastelain, S124 Dr Ron Haycock, MWO Dennis Fournier and WO Mike Roy. He credits all for “getting him through”. Another bonus was reuniting with Jim Gebhardt (‘72), S125 Bill Oliver (’67) and Tom MacKay (’64)! McLeod also found time to coach minor baseball and hockey, as he had done at RRMC.

After graduation followed tours at Trenton, Cold Lake, Air Command, and Greenwood as a Logistics officer. While in Cold Lake from ’81 – ’83 with support of then Base Commander 6014 Col Fred Sutherland, he founded and ran the John Ogrodnick NHL Summer Hockey School, a challenging and rewarding experience with a dedicated group of volunteers.

While in Greenwood in 1988, McLeod was offered the position of Programme Manager, CP-140 aircraft at then Litton Systems (now L-3 Comm). A chap by the name of 5440 Tony Goode was also at Litton (Toronto)! McLeod says he saw this as an opportunity to settle his family, (now grown to six) ) for once and for all after seven moves in fourteen years.

He took his release and moved the family to Bedford NS. Staying in uniform, he transferred to the Reserves and filled the part-time position of OC Supply Company, 33 (Hfx) Service Battalion. McLeod says that this was another challenge for an “airman” but one that again proved to be rewarding and garnered many more lifelong friends.

The Air Force came calling again in the form of, then BGen Paddy O’Donnell, his former Base Commander at Greenwood and the Commander of Maritime Air Group (MAGHQ). He offered McLeod the position of Senior Staff Officer Air Reserves and McLeod says it was too good an offer to refuse.

Leaving Litton, he stayed at MAGHQ until January 1997 when he was promoted to Colonel to assume the position of Deputy Chief of Staff Reserves and Cadets at Air Command HQ, then in Winnipeg. He says that working for LGen Al DeQuetteville and Maj-Gen Brock Horseman (both of whom had been at Cold Lake with McLeod) was a satisfying experience as he was charged with the Revitalization of Canada’s Air Reserves.

The only downside was that he left his wife and youngest daughter at home in Halifax for the less than two-year tour. He “retired” once again in November 1998 upon reaching CRA. McLeod credits LGen O’Donnell, MGen Horseman. LGen DeQuetteville, LGen Sutherland, and General Ray Henault and Lt-Gen Rick Findley with being great leaders, role models and mentors.

He says they made the job challenging but fun and satisfying!

After doing some consulting work for the Department back in Halifax, in 2001 McLeod accepted the challenge of implementing the trial RMC “Red & White” Programme in Atlantic Canada under 8850 Rear-Admiral David Morse, then Commandant of RMC.

As RAdm Morse told him “we haven’t done this before so you are on your own. Come up with a plan!” McLeod stated that implementing the plan after a brief trial was enjoyable, rewarding, and often frustrating as he liaised with both RMC and Canadian Forces Recruiting to attract candidates to the ROTP and specifically RMC.

Nevertheless, he said that meeting and working with the many outstanding high school students in the country along with equally commendable cadets at the College and former cadet mentors in the field ensured the success of the Programme.

He states that he is still in touch with and close friends with those successful applicants who have gone on to great careers in the CAF and in politics and industry , as well as with their families. He credits RAdm Morse with ensuring the success of the plan with his vision and unfaltering support. McLeod estimates that literally hundreds of cadets, especially from Atlantic Canada have been part of the Programme.

He says that it is unfortunate that CDA unwisely could not see the benefits of the Withers Report of 1998 and would not fund the Programme past 2010, the year McLeod “retired” once again after being the Acting National Director for the last two years of the Programme.

A highlight was working for 12192 BGen Tom Lawson, RMC Commandant and a Class of ’79 classmate who went on to become the CDS. He says he would be remiss if he did not acknowledge the leadership, camaraderie and friendship he experienced with Gen Rick Hillier as well as the friendship and support of H7543  Senator Joe Day.

Just in case there were any hours left over in a day, McLeod made sure he filled them.

From 2003-2005 he was the National President of the Air Force Association of Canada. Highlights of that position were: a lengthy discussion on WW I Air Power with Her Royal Highness Princess Anne (see photo above), Colonel Commandant of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment while attending the 90th Anniversary of the Battle of the Somme and Beaumont-Hamel; and, a late evening phone call from then Prime Minister Paul Martin.

He is currently Honorary-President of Atlantic Group of the RCAFA. From 2004 to 2010 McLeod was the Honorary-Colonel of 406 (M) OTS at 12 Wing Shearwater. Ironically, says McLeod, ex-Cadet members of the Red & White Programme went through the Squadron at that time! During that period McLeod was also a member of the Air Command Advisory Council. In addition he is an active member of the RMC Club of Canada, Halifax Branch.

In 2000 McLeod was asked to be Chair, Operations for the 2003 International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Jr Hockey Championships being held in Halifax. He went on to become Chair Operations for the IIHF World Women’s Championship in 2004 and in 2008 the IIHF Men’s World Hockey Championship, making Halifax the only city in the world to have hosted all three IIHF events.

He was Co-Logistics Chair for the 2006 World Indoor Lacrosse Championship. After that he was the Hockey Canada Halifax Coordinator for the 40th Anniversary Canada-Russia Hockey Series in 2012, Team Host for Team Orr at the 2013 CHL Prospects Game, Hockey coordinator for the Canada Winter Games in 2011, and Vice-President Operations for the Halifax Mooseheads of the QMJHL Memorial Cup bids in 2009 and 20012. He was also the Operations Chair for the CIS Men’s Hockey Championship held in Halifax.

McLeod has worked for Hockey Nova Scotia, the Canadian Hockey League, Hockey Canada and the International Ice Hockey Federation. He is proud to note that practically all members of the family were involved as volunteers at those events. In every instance, McLeod says, family and friends volunteers ensured the success of each and every event.

McLeod has been Chair of the 2012 Annual Crohns and Colitis Run/Walk, a member of the committee for the Annual NHL Night of Champions Gala – a fundraiser for Phoenix House for youth at risk, and can be found every Christmas working on the Salvation Army kettles.

While having a very busy and rewarding career and lifetime, McLeod says that none of it could be possible without such a fantastic supporting family who have enabled every job, task and endeavour.

That includes his wife Ann, from Freeland PEI, his three married daughters who all live in the Halifax area, his son, 16986 Col Don McLeod (Class of ’89), currently employed as Director Air Personnel Strategy at Air Command HQ, and nine terrific grandchildren. He says they have always kept him grounded and their unselfish sacrifices made any success possible from day one. He feels truly blessed.

And now, he says, its grand-kids time and five weeks of Grapefruit League Spring Training every winter with the family!