Westmount, Quebec – 29 June 2015: Lieutenant-Colonel John Zoellner, MMM, CD reached the compulsory retirement age this Spring and has subsequently retired from the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF). Padre Zoellner joined the Army in 1991 and originally came to the RMR in September 1992. He served the Regiment diligently until April 2008 when he was promoted Major and appointed as the Deputy Chaplain for 2 Division. He held this position for five years before being promoted Lieutenant-Colonel and appointed as the Deputy Chaplain for the Canadian Army, the last position he held with the CAF.
Well respected by all ranks during his service with the RMR, Padre Zoellner was the epitome of an RMR soldier: Professional, physically robust, and well-skilled. He once won the RMR’s BACK BREAKER trophy, finishing the 13 km Battle Fitness Test in first place (tied with two other members) – carrying the standard load – and well ahead of soldiers half his age.
Following the path of great RMR Padres such as Canon Scott and Denis Dwyer, he endeared himself to the Regiment’s soldiers by serving alongside them in the most difficult conditions: long-range patrols (including the infamous “lost patrol” in Gagetown in the 1990’s that left them without sleep for 48-hours and induced numerous hallucinations), winter defensive exercises, and route marches in the blazing heat. His first taste of duty with the Regiment was joining up a Basic Recce Patrolmans’s course being conducted in Farnham, and the weekend that he chose to come out on set a record rainfall that year – welcome to ‘RMR Weather’, Padre! He carried his load and did his duty, earning the respect of all ranks along the way.
Over the course of his years with the Regiment Padre Zoellner was always there for the members of the Regimental Family, through all the cycles of life: He counselled them, he married them, he baptized their children, he comforted them when they were sick, and he buried them.
He was responsible for establishing a cell that helped the families of deployed RMR soldiers and he kept a close eye on all returning soldiers to make sure they readjusted back to Canadian society as best as possible. It is estimated that during his tour of duty with the RMR, the Regiment deployed well over one hundred soldiers on missions in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Croatia, Eritrea, Haiti, etc. Some of his most cherished memories of service with the Regiment include the times that he was able to bring the families of our deployed members into the armoury a few times per deployment, just to be able to talk with them and let them share their common concerns.
On behalf of the entire RMR Family, the RMR Foundation wishes Padre John Zoellner all the very best for a well-deserved retirement. Thank you for your service to the Regiment and to Canada, you truly set the standard.
Honi Soit Qui Mal Y Pense