Lieutenant-General J.E. "Jack" Vance, CMM, CD (Ret'd) Passes
The most sad news reached Regimental Headquarters yesterday evening of the passing of a Regimental giant. On behalf of the Colonel of the Regiment, Colonel W.J. Aitchison; the Chairman of the Regimental Senate, Brigadier-General J.B. Simms; and the Chairman of the Regimental Executive Committee, Colonel J.P. Davis, it is my unhappy duty to inform you that Lieutenant-General J.E. "Jack" Vance, CMM, CD (Ret'd) passed away peacefully, in Tweed, Ontario on Tuesday, 10 September 2013. Lieutenant-General Jack Vance was 80 years of age. Lieutenant-General Jonathan H. Vance, Deputy Commander Allied Joint Force Command at Naples, Italy, is returning from Europe and is expected to be on the ground as of Friday, 13 September.
Lieutenant-General Jack Vance was a legend in his own lifetime and will be remembered, along with a very small handful of others, as one who had a transformational effect upon The Royal Canadian Regiment, who recast the structure of the Regiment and insured its well being for generations to come. His name will forever be mentioned in the same breath as those of George Joseph Maunsell, William Dillon Otter, Lawrence Buchan, Milton F. Gregg, Eric Snow and Dan Spry. He will surely also be remembered as a man of indomitable character, uncompromising integrity and outstanding intellect. Jack Vance was born into difficult times on 28 July 1933, near Tweed in Hungerford County, Ontario. His life course was set in September 1952 when he enrolled at Royal Military College, Kingston. Lieutenant-General Vance attended RMC from September 1952 - June 1956. He completed Phases One and Two of Officer Training at the Royal Canadian School of Infantry (while Colonel Peter R. Bingham of The RCR was Commandant) at Camp Borden and in Meaford. When confronted with difficult problems other candidates always went to Jack Vance for calm advice and foolproof solutions. Jack Vance completed Phase Three at Fort York, Soest, West Germany in 1955 as a Platoon Commander with 2nd Battalion The Royal Canadian Regiment. From June 1956 - September 1957 he was posted with 2 RCR at Wolseley Barracks, London, Ontario, where he was promoted to Lieutenant and served as Anti-Tank Platoon Commander and as Para Officer.
Lieutenant Vance attended the University of Toronto from September 1957 - June 1958 and obtained a degree in history. He then served at Camp Ipperwash, Ontario with 1st Battalion The Royal Canadian Regiment (with Lieutenant-Colonel Frank "Klink" Klenavic as Commanding Officer) from August 1958 - June 1960, first as a Platoon Commander and then as Intelligence Officer. Promoted to Captain, Jack Vance was posted to Army Headquarters in Ottawa in June 1960, serving as a staff officer in the Adjutant-General's Branch until September 1963. From February 1961, Captain Vance served as the Personal Assistant to the Adjutant-General. He subsequently attended a two year course at Staff College in Kingston from September 1963 - June 1965. In June 1965 Captain Vance was posted to 2 RCR at Wolseley Barracks, becoming OC of "C" Company. He was promoted to the rank of Major in December 1965. Major Vance remained with 2 RCR until June 1967. From June 1967 - August 1968 he held the appointment of Brigade Major of 3 Canadian Infantry Brigade at Gagetown, New Brunswick. Promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel, he served as the SSO Training at Force Mobile Command (FMC, i.e. the Canadian Army) HQ at St. Hubert, Quebec from August 1968 - 1971. In 1971 Lieutenant-Colonel Vance assumed command of a mechanized infantry Battalion at Baden-Soellingen, West Germany: 3 Mechanized Commando (3 Mech Cdo). 3 Mech Cdo was a hybrid unit consisting of soldiers from both The RCR and the PPCLI that existed from 28 June 1970 - 13 July 1977. Lieutenant-Colonel Vance remained in command until August 1972 when he was promoted to Colonel and posted to FMC HQ. Here Colonel Vance was DCOS Training until 1973. He was posted to NDHQ, Ottawa as Director Indiv Training from 1973-1975.
Colonel Vance was promoted to Brigadier-General in 1975 and remained at NDHQ as Director-General Recruiting, Education and Training until July 1976. Posted to Lahr, Germany, Brigadier-General Vance commanded 4 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group at Lahr and Baden-Soellingen from July 1976 - July 1978. Returning once more to FMC HQ he served in the pivotal role of COS Ops from July 1978 - July 1979. Brigadier-General Vance attended National Defence College from July 1979 - May 1980 and was promoted to the rank of Major-General on this latter date. From May 1980 to May 1983 Major-General Vance was, initially, chairman of the Unification T.F. Review and then C Postings, Careers and Senior Appointments at NDHQ. During this time the present Colonel of the Regiment, Colonel W.J. Aitchison, was the staff officer to General Vance. In May 1983, less than 12 years after assuming command of a battalion in Germany, he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant-General. Still at NDHQ, Lieutenant-General Vance was responsible for CF Personnel from May 1983 - June 1985. In 1983 Lieutenant-General J.E. Vance was invested in the Order of Military Merit, grade of Commander (CMM). As of June 1985 he became Vice Chief of Defence Staff (VCDS), the second highest appointment in the Canadian Armed Forces. Lieutenant-General Vance would continue to serve as VCDS until 1988.
Lieutenant-General Jack Vance would retire from the CF in 1988, at the age of 55, having completed 36 years of most dedicated service. He had already made a huge contribution to Country, Army and Regiment, but his service to the larger community and indeed to The Royal Canadian Regiment was far from over. Shortly after retirement Lieutenant-General Vance accepted the position of Colonel Commandant of the Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps, an appointment he exercised from 01 September 1989 - 1992. For the rest of his life he would continue to associate his name and provide support to the Cadet movement. Not surprisingly, Lieutenant-General Vance was honoured with the appointment of Colonel Commandant of the Royal Canadian Infantry Corps from 1992-1995. With his many years of distinguished service in higher command and a reputation for wisdom and integrity, he was named the Senior Military Advisor to the Privy Council for the Somalia Inquiry.
Most fittingly, Lieutenant-General J.E. Vance, CMM CD, was appointed Colonel of the Regiment of The Royal Canadian Regiment on 01 July 1997. This was indeed a well deserved honour. During the tenure of his appointment he was an active and inspirational Colonel of the Regiment. In the Cold War/Peacekeeping era his positive influence on developments within the Regiment was greatly significant. During the 1970s and 1980s he had worked tirelessly with Major-General Dan Loomis to reform and adapt the structure of The Royal Canadian Regiment. The transformation wrought by Lieutenant-General Vance insured that the Regiment could face the future and continue to flourish. The Royal Canadian Regiment as it is today is in large part a reflection of the vision of this great man. In his life he became an embodiment of all those qualities and virtues that make our Regiment great. In describing Lieutenant-General Jack Vance I will leave the final words to his son, Lieutenant-General Jonathan Vance. In accepting the Vimy Award in 2011 he said of and to his father: "...I could not have asked for a better role model of leadership and wisdom than you. Many of us curse when we start to sound like our parents... well, just to let you know, more often than not I gave silent thanks... Thanks Dad."
The Royal Canadian Regiment