A career to savour, RAdm Truelove reflects on 37 years

Rear-Admiral Bill Truelove

Rear-Admiral Bill Truelove

Peter Mallett, Staff Writer ~

Last Thursday, five days after his 55th birthday, Canada’s Defence Staff Attaché to Washington, Rear-Admiral Bill Truelove called it a career and set out on a new uncharted course: his retirement.

A Change of Command ceremony was held at the Embassy of Canada, Washington, DC, July 19, presided over by the Vice Chief of the Defence Staff Lieutenant-General P.F. Wynnyk. Rear Admiral Truelove handed over his duties to Major General Simon Hetherington.

RAdm Truelove says he savoured and enjoyed every moment of his days in the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN), including his final appointment as Canada’s Defence Attaché to the U.S.

“To come here to Washington, D.C., and culminate my career as Defence Attaché has been incredible,” said RAdm Trulove during an over-the-phone interview. “Our military enjoys a great historical relationship with the United States military and these have indeed been interesting times to be here.”

For three years he worked as the senior accredited military officer representing the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) in Washington. Top on his agenda was maintaining and strengthening Canada’s relationship with the United States military and advising David MacNaughton, Canada’s ambassador to the United States.

In his posting, he and his wife Brenda became Deans of the Washington Corps of Military Attachés, leading an organization that includes military representatives of 120 nations.

The Change of Command closes a 37-year career. While his career finishes in the United States, his last appointment in Canada was Commander Maritimes Forces Pacific and Joint Task Force Pacific.

He might never have reached that pinnacle position if it weren’t for helping hands early in his career. A vision problem was discovered in his left eye while he was attending Royal Roads Military College. It nearly led to his discharge. If not for the support of Royal Roads Commandant, Captain Bill Draper and RAdm Bob Yanow, RAdm Truelove says his career would have been different. It’s this story that has him encouraging the younger generation of sailors to stay the course, overcome the obstacles, and follow in his wake, as an adventurous career can be had in the navy.

“The navy and the CAF represent an incredible way to serve your nation and to do interesting and exciting things around the world,” he said. “You can learn and grow, there are great leadership opportunities, and the military offers a great, supportive environment to raise a family and provide for them.”

He knows of what he speaks. His father was a naval officer, retiring at the rank of Lieutenant-Commander. He encouraged his son to enlist in the navy.

RAdm Truelove admits to being hooked on life at sea from the beginning. First as a young cadet aboard sail training vessels at the Naval Officer Training Centre HMCS Venture and then later aboard RCN minesweepers. 

“My first taste of it all and the excitement of being at sea with great shipmates, travelling around the world and doing exciting things was unmatched for me.”

He completed his training aboard HMC Ships Chaleur, Fundy, Saskatchewan and Qu’Appelle. In 1986 he served as Bridge Watchkeeper, Navigation Officer and Above Water Warfare Officer aboard HMCS Athabaskan. He commanded his first vessel in 1997 when he took the helm of HMCS Chaleur, and in 2003 he assumed command of HMCS Regina.

Notable overseas deployments during his career include seven months in the Adriatic Sea when the RCN took part in the United Nations embargo of the former Yugoslavia; a five-month deployment to the Persian Gulf in support of Operation Apollo, part of Canada’s contribution to the war on terrorism; and a nine-month deployment to Kabul, Afghanistan, as Deputy in the Strategic Communications Directorate.

While attending Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, as a member of the Naval Command College Class of 2005 he also obtained a master’s degree in International Relations at Salve Regina University. Later that year he was appointed Canadian Forces Naval Attaché in Washington before returning to Esquimalt in 2006 and assuming command of Maritime Operations Group Four. He was promoted to Commodore in 2009 and served as Commandant Chancellor of Royal Military College until 2011 before his final promotion to his current rank in 2012 when he was named Commander Maritime Forces Pacific.

Although he faced some rough seas during his command in Esquimalt including the HMCS Winnipeg allision and subsequent fire aboard HMCS Protecteur in 2013, there were also many successes. He points to the implementation of the Halifax-Class Modernization program and infrastructure renewal projects at Fleet Maintenance Facility Cape Breton and elsewhere on base as some key developments in Esquimalt during his tenure.

RAdm Truelove says the construction projects and changing face of Dockyard pales in comparison to the transformation of Canada’s navy as an organization, which has occurred during his career. He characterized the navy his father served in, and the one he began with early in his career, to being “rougher around the edges.”

“It’s amazing to see how we have evolved; the professionalism, focus on a healthy lifestyle and fitness, and the level of investment in training and education and new leadership models,” said RAdm Truelove. “We have taken major steps in the reserves, with our civilian workforce, and have developed a greater understanding of the critical role families play in our success.”

He says the accomplishments and success of the organization also serve as a great departure point for him, although he doesn’t like to use the word “retirement.”

He hopes to stay active and engaged on the road ahead instead of “just putting my feet up for an extended time.” Staying busy will include continuing to support mental health non-profit Give an Hour, which provides free-of-charge care through its network of health professional volunteers.

He and his wife Brenda are looking forward to moving back to Canada and their home in Ottawa. They also plan on taking a trip to Victoria and reuniting with their two children, Anthony and Ashley.

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  1. Petra Richter says:

    i wish best life

  2. Darren Rich says:

    A true gentleman, scholar, leader and mentor. I had the privilege of working with then Cmdre Truelove and “the College Mom” Brenda at RMCC. Bravo Zulu Sir to you and your family for all that you have given and done along your illustrious career. Thanks for your service.

  3. Annette White says:

    My response to all of this is wow, I knew you as a child and to see how much you have grown as man is such a huge accomplishment. I know you probably dont remember me but that is ok, to know you when and to see you today is totally awesome. Congratulations on your many endeavors and accomplishments, so very proud of you and to say you came from a small little village in Milton Nova Scotia to the United States Capitol is fantastic, all the best to you and your wife.

  4. Peter Bissonnette says:

    Admiral Truelove is a Leader of Leaders. I thoroughly enjoyed my time as an Honourary Captain under his guidance. He is a great communicator, mentor and team builder. I look upon my years with Admiral Truelove as the hilite of my Honourary Captaincy. We wish him well in his next chapter.

  5. C2HT Dykstra (Rtd) says:

    Always a gentleman, very approachable and a wonderful XO (at the time) his retirement will be a loss for the RCN….but BZ for all his accomplishments and a happy fulfilling retirement…

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