KINGSTON—To say that Haweater Lesley (Glanville) Kerckhoff has an interesting life, one filled with changes pretty much every day, and one that is at times scary as well, would be an understatement.
Ms. Kerckhoff, who started her career with the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) as an infantry officer is now a Lieutenant Colonel in the Canadian Armed Forces, stationed in Kingston. Over her career, she has served two tours of duty in Afghanistan and one in Ukraine.
“It is a job that keeps changing. Every day is different,” Lt. Col. Kerckhoff told The Expositor. She is the daughter of Les and Elsie Glanville of Providence Bay.
“I was born and raised on Manitoulin Island and went to school at Central Manitoulin Public School in Mindemoya and to Manitoulin Secondary School in M’Chigeeng,” explained Lt. Col. Kerckhoff.
She attended Royal Military College in Kingston, beginning in 1997, and graduated in 2001. “I started my career as an infantry officer member, part of the Royal Canadian Regiment. Then 911 happened and I reported to my first unit in Petawawa, where I served as a Platoon Commander.” In this role, “I commanded about 30 soldiers in mechanized warfare training. It was right around the time Canada bought Light Armoured Vehicle 3 trucks. These vehicles are the most advanced fighting vehicle there is in Canada and replaced track infantry vehicles. It provides for better protection and was used in the Afghan war.”
Lt. Col. Kerckhoff served as Captain in the military from 2004-2014.
“I did two tours in Afghanistan, in 2005 in Kabul, and 2010 in the Kandahar province,” said the Lieutenant Colonel. “And in 2015 I was part of the first rotation into Ukraine on ‘Operation Unifier.’ We went to train and work with Ukraine forces soldiers and officers.”
On her first tour of Afghanistan, Lt. Col. Kerckhoff was a planning officer, “planning activities as we prepared to move equipment from Kabul to Kandahar.”
On her second tour of duty in Afghanistan Lt. Col. Kerckhoff was “second in command rifle company. Yes, on the second tour there was more activity than the first tour. We assisted with casualties as well as with a number of engagements and helped encourage development in the area. We worked with leadership in communities to employ and train young men to build infrastructure in little towns that were nearby.” She noted her first tour of Afghanistan was for six months, and the second was for eight months. “We were in a very hot, not always friendly, place.”
However, “that is what we train for,” said Lt. Colonel Kerckhoff. “But, sure, there are a number of days that you wonder what you are actually doing in a place like we were in.”
In 2010, Lt. Col. Kerckhoff went to Fort Erwin, California, to help train both Canadian and US military as they prepared to go to Afghanistan.
“No, we were not involved in any type of conflict in Ukraine,” said Lt. Col. Kerckhoff. “The front-line soldiers came to us.”
“After that I was an officer commanding the Charles Company at Petawawa,” continued Lt. Col Kerckhoff. “We had about 120 soldiers on hand and light armoured vehicles. We trained the soldiers for about eight months with the purpose of preparing them for other tasks as well. She also took a course in Toronto, to obtain her masters degree in Defence Studies.
She then moved with her family to Kingston and continues to work in the First Canadian Division. “We provide training of formations, training groups and designing exercises to prepare brigades for tasks overseas,” said Lt. Col. Kerckhoff.
“I am now a Lieutenant Colonel in the Canadian Army in Kingston,” she explained “Everyone plays a role in the CAF to be ready for any conflicts,” said Lieutenant Colonel Kerckhoff. “My role is to build exercises which challenge and prepare our troops for conflicts.”
Ms. Kerckhoff has a daughter, Emily, who is 14, and a partner Marc, who is a Infantry officer (in CAF) and who has a son, Alexander. “My partner Marc is a member of the Royal 22 Regiment which is based in Quebec.”
Lt. Col. Kerckhoff will be taking part in the Remembrance Day ceremonies taking place in Kagawong November 11. She will lay a wreath on behalf of the CAF.