Herb Pitts

I was among the first army cadets to be welcomed to the Canadian Services College Royal Roads in September 1948. I thought it a privilege to be here, and I still do.

After junior term, I was a Flight Leader for two terms and a Squadron Leader for one. Team sports earned me the Captain’s Cup in 1950.

Moving on to Royal Military College (RMC) in Kingston, I was appointed Squadron Leader for all terms except one. At graduation in 1952, I garnered prizes in team sports, academic subjects and leadership, including the Van der Smisson-Ridout Award voted upon by all cadets and staff. What a way to finish, and then on to Korea!

My business, then as now, in my army career was team building, being part of a team and leading teams. Through my early life, professional life and now in retirement, it is still important to me.

Very few people face life alone at the outset. I grew up in the small community of Nelson B.C. during the Depression and WWII brought thoughts for others close to our family and friends. We lost many young men, including VC winner Hampton Gray and his brother John, among the 28 men who did not return from the war.

Looking back at my time at Royal Roads and RMC, I felt strongly about bonding with others, especially my entry class. This was facilitated by double bunks in the junior dorm. If needed, help was at hand.

Leadership to me means accepting that you have done or would do anything you ask others. You’ve been through the fire or would lead through fire. I took part in everything I’ve asked of others. Paratrooping is like that. Central to that credo is the thought that “together you can do things that individually you could not”. Care for others, respect, trust and know the capabilities of your comrades, and all is possible. Reach out and learn!

In the minds of many of us who attended Royal Roads, there is a spiritual quality about the place. It’s hard to describe but includes the natural setting, quality of instruction, quality of classmates, quality of curriculum and accompanying achievements. My expectation is that those qualities are still present and that is good!

There is a creek that runs along the roadway down to what used to be the parade square from the cadet block. Getting away from the hectic, driven college life meant going to sit by the creek sometimes. I would go down in the valley at the edge of that creek, and say to myself, “Are things ok?” And invariably, I would say “Yes, things are ok, they are going along pretty well, what’s your problem?” And I didn’t really have one, except I felt kind of exhausted at times.

When I recovered myself, it was in the silence of that little creek and the trees around it.

I thought, we’re pretty lucky.

Herb Pitts
Commissioned as a Lieutenant in the Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians), Herb Pitts arrived in Korea in July 1952, six weeks after graduation from RMC. He served as an Infantry Platoon Commander with the 1st and 3rd Battalions of Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry and was awarded the Military Cross for Gallantry and Leadership. Pitts remained in the Forces, serving with The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada and Canadian Airborne Regiment. He traveled extensively during his service, held key appointments, and retired as Major General in 1978. Since retiring he worked in farming, driver education, truck fleet management and volunteered at every level, from local to international, with seniors, Veterans, youth, alumni, community, and Defence, Legion and regimental affairs.

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