Bob Auchterlonie’s military career took another turn in June when he was promoted to the rank of rear admiral in the Royal Canadian Navy — the second-highest ranking next to vice-admiral.
A graduate of Vanier Secondary in Courtenay, the Cumberland-raised Auchterlonie earned an economics degree at the Royal Military College of Canada in 1991 and was then commissioned into the RCN.
While attending the Kingston university, he captained the varsity hockey team that competed in the Canadian Interuniversity Athletic Union (since changed to Canadian Interuniversity Sport) league.
The 47-year-old had been fleet commander at CFB Esquimalt before being posted to Ottawa for a third time last summer.
“I’ve been fortunate in my life. Been lucky to travel around the world,” Auchterlonie said from the nation’s capital. “The Armed Forces — it’s a pretty big and complex organization. We’re there on behalf of Canadians.”
His career has been rewarding and challenging — a “series of progressions” leading up to his current ranking. As a young officer, his ultimate goal was to captain a ship.
“And I was very fortunate to command a ship,” said Auchterlonie, who commanded the HMCS Fredericton (2007-2009), CFB Esquimalt (2012-2013) and the Canadian Pacific Fleet (2013-2015).
“Right now, there’s a lot going on in the world. There’s a tremendously dynamic security environment internationally.”
“The Canadian Armed Forces, whether in the army, the navy or the air force, we contribute to that, at behest of the government. We deploy to support the government mandate. There’s a lot of challenges every day. In my current job, within the Joint Operations Command, we see it daily.”
Auchterlonie and his wife, Tammy, have lived on both coasts of Canada and south of the border. The bulk of the time was spent in Victoria.
Oftentimes, a military child doesn’t refer to any one place as home. But Auchterlonie says his two boys — Michael, 19, and Fraser, 14 — are lucky because “they always had the Valley to go back to.”
Does the family hope to someday return to the Comox Valley?
“That’ an easy one,” he said. “We love the Island. My parents lived in the Valley forever. We’ll end up back on Vancouver Island, for sure.”