Major-General Dan Gordon Loomis, MC OMM CD (Ret’d) Passes
A Regimental icon, who can also be fairly described as a Regimental giant, has recently died. Major-General Dan Gordon Loomis, MC, OMM, CD (Ret’d) passed away in hospital at Ottawa last Thursday, 05 December 2013. He was 84 years of age. Mrs. Lorna Loomis, wife of Major-General Loomis, has confirmed that there will be no public funeral and interment. As a platoon commander with 1st Battalion The Royal Canadian Regiment (1 RCR) in Korea, 1952 – 1953, Major-General Loomis was decorated for gallantry in action and was awarded the Military Cross (MC). Later he rose to become Commanding Officer of 1 RCR, 1969 – 1971. From this time he emerged as a key senior Regimental leader and was one of the principal architects of the modern organization of The Royal Canadian Regiment.
Dan Gordon Loomis was born at Montreal, Quebec in 1929 and eventually attended Lower Canada College in Montreal. His first experience of soldiering occurred in 1944 during the Second World War he enlisted in the Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa as a 15 year old Boy Soldier. Major-General Loomis attended Royal Roads Military College (RRMC) in Victoria, BC from 1948 – 1950 and Royal Military College (RMC) at Kingston, Ontario from 1950 – 1952. He graduated from RMC in 1952 as a Rhodes Scholar. In 1952 Major-General Loomis commissioned as an officer into 1 RCR. He subsequently served as a platoon commander in “C” Company, 1 RCR in Korea from April 1952 — March 1953. On the night of 27 September 1952 Lieutenant Loomis led a patrol of “C” Company men against Chinese positions on Hill 227, a powerful enemy bastion. During the patrol contact was made with the enemy. In the short but savage engagement that ensued grenades and small arms fire were exchanged at short range. Lieutenant Loomis and three of his men were wounded. Dan Loomis received severe shrapnel wounds to his legs and hips (debilitating injuries from which he suffered for the rest of his life). Nevertheless, under the leadership of Lieutenant Loomis the “C” Company patrol carried the fight to the enemy, eliminating a Chinese machine-gun while killing its crew. For his gallantry and leadership in this action Loomis was subsequently awarded the Military Cross. He was one of only 33 Canadian officers to received the MC during the Korean War.
Following his return to Canada from Korea, Dan Loomis attended Queen’s University in Kingston, graduating in 1954 with a Bachelor of Science (BSc) in Chemical Engineering. During 1954 – 1955 he returned to Regimental service with 1 RCR, first at Wolseley Barracks in London, Ontario, then at Fort York, Soest, West Germany. Remaining in Germany Lieutenant Loomis was employed as a staff officer at the Canadian Brigade Headquarters during 1955 – 1956. Promoted to Captain in 1956, he attended the Royal Military College of Science in England from 1956 – 1958. Captain Loomis was to eventually graduate at the top of his class receiving a further science degree. Not surprisingly with his background in science, Captain Loomis next served as a Technical Staff Officer at the Joint Nuclear, Biological, Chemical Warfare School at at Camp Borden, Ontario during 1958 – 1959. From 1959 – 1961 he attended the Canadian Army Staff College in Kingston. Promoted to the rank of Major, Dan Loomis commanded a rifle company in 1 RCR from 1961 – 1962, first at Camp Ipperwash, Ontario, then at Fort York in Soest, West Germany. From 1962 – 1964 Major Loomis was employed as an Operations Staff Officer at British 1st Corps Headquarters (British Army of the Rhine). Returning to Canada in 1964 he was then a staff officer at Mobile Command (Army) Headquarters. Promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel, Dan Loomis attended Queen’s University, 1967 – 1969, graduating with an M.A.
Lieutenant-Colonel D.G. Loomis would now command 1st Battalion The Royal Canadian Regiment from 15 January 1969 — 21 February 1971. Concurrently he would serve as Home Station Commander. During his tenure of command 1 RCR mounted two significant operations. The first was Operation SNOWGOOSE 13, a Battalion deployment to Cyprus on UN peacekeeping duties from March-October 1970. Returning from Cyprus, 1 RCR was flung almost immediately into the FLQ Crisis (also referred to as the October Crisis), participating in Operation GINGER, an internal security operation designed to apprehend a potential insurrection instigated by FLQ terrorists in the province of Quebec. In addition to commanding 1 RCR at this time, Lieutenant-Colonel Loomis was also acted as the Chief of Staff of the Western Quebec Sector during the FLQ Crisis. Dan Loomis would eventually write an account of the Canadian army’s role in the FLQ Crisis, “Not Much Glory: Quelling the FLQ,” published in 1984.
Following the period during which he commanded 1 RCR, D.G. Loomis was employed at NDHQ in a staff capacity from September 1971 — November 1972. Immediately following this he served as Deputy Commander and Chief of Staff of the Canadian Contingent, serving at Saigon in Vietnam as international military observers and monitors during the climactic phase if the Vietnam conflict, 1972 – 1973. Dan Loomis then served as a Special Policy Advisor at NDHQ from 1973 – 1974. Eventually attaining the rank of Major-General, he would subsequently hold a myriad of important posts, including: Chief of Staff Mobile Command HQ; Commander C.A.S.T. Combat Group and CFB Petawawa; and NDHQ Chief of Programme. Following retirement Major-General Loomis served as a senior-level management consultant and advisor to, among others, the Treasury Board, the Department of External Affairs, and various private sector entities. Major-General D.G. Loomis is most certainly one of our most important Regimental leaders. His importance to our Regimental development in the modern era is absolutely fundamental.
I have attached a photo of Major-General Loomis and his highly illuminating article, “The Regimental System.” I urge you to read below the chain of moving tributes to Major-General Loomis submitted by men who knew him well or at least were immediately and directly affected and influenced by his actions and his words. I would like to thank the Colonel of the Regiment, Colonel W.J. Aitchison; Bob Hersey; Don Jazey; Les Peate; Alen Clarke; and Major-General Ivan Fenton for their moving and insightful thoughts about Major-General Loomis.
The Regimental System - Produced in 1974 by BGen DG Loomis MC OMM CD, COS Ops FMC HQ
I have known for over 30 years how highly you thought of Dan and have witnessed his reciprocal respect and affection for you. No warrior could ask for more than what you have said about Dan. He was, in my view, one of the finest, most principled and brightest officers of his generation and his latter struggles with Alzheimer’s and dementia were tragedy of the highest order. It is a great pity that virtually no currently-serving officers had the opportunity to observe him and benefit from his sterling character.
Colonel of the Regiment, Colonel W.J. Aitchison
MGen Dan Loomis:
He commanded D Coy 1RCR at Fort York, Germany from 1962 to 1965. It became obvious to ALL battalion officers that Dan Loomis was extremely smart, very much devoted to his men, and a brilliant tactician. As his Company 2 IC, I observed him completely and correctly analyse the moves that the exercise enemy would make during a company by company TEWT. Further, he gave young officers tutorials on infantry tactics which in no small way allowed them to pass promotion examinations.
He commanded 1 RCR in London, ON and in Nicosia, Cyprus (the summer tour of 1970 on the Green Line). As Officer Commanding A Coy, 1 RCR, I personally witnessed the expert operational handling of our battalion resources by Dan Loomis to fulfil our task. During his command, no “incident” ever became a major issue between UNFICYP, the Greek National Guard and the Turkish Forces. As an example of the loyalty that Dan Loomis received as CO, it must be remembered that after six months away from our families, each battalion soldier and officer had a four week pass on return to Canada. However, seven days after our return, 1 RCR was ordered to the Hull /Ottawa area during the FLQ crisis – the entire battalion returned from leave and was on the ground in FOUR days after receiving the order via telephone /radio announcements !!
In the mid 1970’s, Canada was asked to send a force into Vietnam to supervise the peace process. The Canadian group was commanded by LGen Duncan McAlpine who immediately chose BGen Dan Loomis to be his Chief Operations Officer; an appointment which only demonstrates the high regard held by senior officers of Dan Loomis’s operational capability. Another example of this regard was that on posting to FMC HQ, he was appointed COS Ops – Chief of Operations for the Canadian Army.
I understand that Gen Ramsey Withers, a RMC classmate of Dan Loomis, is writing a biography. I will not comment further on the NDHQ part of Dan’s career as he was Chief of Programs for Gen Withers who was CDS at the time.
I will close by stating my most honest and best tribute to our comrade, Dan Loomis. Of all the Infantry officers that I met or worked with in my 37 years of service as an Infantry Officer: — If I were ordered into combat duty – there is no other officer than Dan Loomis that I would want as my commander.
God bless him and may he rest in peace,
MGen Dan G. Loomis, MC CD served as a platoon commander in Korea, where he was wounded by grenade shrapnel. His actions earned him the MC. For the remainder of his life he suffered from the wounds with back and leg issues. In 1962 he deployed to Germany where he commanded a company of 1 RCR until returning to Canada in 1965. LCol Loomis took command of 1 RCR in 1968, I believe. I was the adjutant of 1 RCR at that time and remained as his adjutant until 1970. 1 RCR rotated to Cyprus for its second tour in the fall of 1969 under Loomis command. As the adjutant I established a very close relationship with LCol Loomis, a relationship which continued after his retirement. I know for a fact that every decision which he made as CO of 1 RCR was made only after he considered all of the facts as they might impact the troops. Often these decisions were not popular with some of the officers, but they were the right ones for the troops.
Following his command of 1 RCR, he was posted to become chief of staff in western Quebec. This was on the eve of the FLQ crisis in October 1970. because of his intimate knowledge of what was really going on during this critical period of Canadian history, Dan Loomis wrote “Not Much Glory, quelling the F.L.Q.” published by Deneau publishing in Toronto. It is a good read.
MGen Loomis served his final years in the service in NDHQ where he was to be the final signing authority on a piece of army gear. Believing that this piece of equipment was not right for the army and would lead to needless loss of life, he refused to sign off on the project. He was ordered to do so and because of his strong belief and the fact that the order came from the highest level, Dan Loomis decided to resign his commission on principle. He was indeed a man of principle and I will miss him even though we have not been in touch for a few years.
As some are aware, MGen (ret) Dan Loomis has passed away. Apparently he was right here in Ottawa. R Adjt would welcome input from any who wish to share biographical information with him, so he can put out a full report. I have cc’ed Ross Appleton, in case you do not have his address.
My slight knowledge includes the fact that he commanded 1 RCR for its deployment on the FLQ crisis in 1970. This was a sensitive and difficult operation that remains part of Canada’s divisive internal history; the restraint and steadiness of soldiers of The Royal Canadian Regiment, and others, on that op is a testament to our army’s professionalism, as well as to the leadership of men like MGen Loomis. Later he commanded 2 CMBG (and this included 3 RCR) in the mid-70s, for Op GAMESCAN (security support to 1976 Olympics), and despatched 3 RCR to Cyprus that fall, when the battalion was given a break from its longstanding AMF(L) commitment.
May he rest in peace; he served his country well.
I had known Dan Loomis for many years. He was a class mate in graduation from RMC in 1952 with the likes of Herb Pitts (PPCLI, Airborne), Ramsay Withers, Art Vandel and my brother Joe (RCHA) and a number of others (whose names I have forgotten) who went straight from RMC to Korea.. Proceeded to Korea in July 1952 to 1 RCR. I believe that his Platoon Sgt was a soldier from Carleton Place (Spike Camelon) from he learned a great deal during his sojourn in Korea. Gen Pitts and Gen Withers undoubtedly knew him better than a lot of us “avoirdupois”; however, I became acquainted with him over the years of service and had the pleasure of serving with him at FMC HQ in the 1970s. He and my brother corresponded over the years until my brother’s demise in 2004. I recall a briefing he presented at FMC HQ to the officers in which he placed his presentation on the podium and stood off to one side and lectured for the complete time without reference to his notes. In my estimation he was a brilliant officer, a gentleman and a friend. I considered him to be a “soldier’s officer”. I still have some of is writings that he sent to my brother who was living in France at the period ending in 2004. I know that he served in Germany and Indo China (in the 1970s) and of course many other venues.