Korean-Canadian Armour Officer is a proud “tanker”

Article / May 31, 2017 / Project number: 17-0114

By Lynn Capuano, Army Public Affairs

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Kingston, Ontario — Although he is a proud member of Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) (LdSH(RC)), it is not horses that are Captain Hyunjoon (Dave) Jung’s preferred mode of transport.

Capt Jung is proud to be called a “tanker”, which, he explained, “is a term used in the Army when referring to any Armour Officer/NCM [Non-Commissioned Member] who is qualified on tanks.”

While he favours tanks and other impressive armoured vehicles, this versatile soldier can saddle up as well.  

“I did go through my equestrian course, as it is a tradition that all Regimental Officers learn to ride,” Capt Jung said. He wears the traditional spurs on his Wellington boots as part of the formal mess dinner uniform.

LdSH(RC) was created in 1900 as a cavalry unit and its first recruits were skilled horsemen who were renowned as scouts in the Boer War. As time and mechanization marched on, the horses gave way to motorcycles and finally, tanks during the Second World War. In Afghanistan, eight consecutive LdSH(RC) tank squadrons served between 2006 and 2010.

Proud Asian heritage

Born in Seoul, South Korea in 1990, Capt Jung arrived in Toronto at age 10 with his parents and sister. “I had absolutely no English education before I came here, so it was all body language until I started making friends by playing sports.”

He estimated it took him three or four years to master English, and he polished his French while attending the Royal Canadian Military College of Canada (RMCC) under the Regular Officer Training Program. He has maintained his Korean culture and language throughout his life, speaking it with family and also with friends and newcomers.

“I was old enough to realize the value of my heritage when I immigrated to Canada. Though it would have been very easy for me to lose my Korean language skills due to coming here at a young age, I made it my personal goal to keep practicing it. I believe the language is the most important part of identifying your heritage. I still enjoy participating in events that involve my background culture,” said Capt Jung.

“I volunteer with the Korean Community Church and I’m heavily involved in making myself available for my culture,” he said. Being young at the time helped him adapt quickly, but, “Some of my friends who came here in their mid-20s are having more struggles, so I like to guide them through and give them my perspective on living in Canada.”

He said when he meets others in the Army or the Canadian Armed Forces who have the same background, they tend to keep in touch. “I think that just being part of that group, we automatically have that bond between ourselves.”

A close shave at The Royal Military College of Canada

He recalls his first days at RMCC with good humour. “I went there in 2008 at the age of 18 and I had absolutely no clue what I was getting myself into.” He was strongly influenced by a desire to “do something different.”

“All my buddies were planning to go to regular universities, so I said, ‘Why not find something a bit more interesting do?’ But, during the First Year Orientation Program there, it was completely a shock to me! I thought my hair was short enough when I showed up but I eventually got my head shaven just like everyone else. It was a no-mercy situation.”

Capt Jung said, “I started to go for leadership positions in my squadron at RMCC, and by the time I got to my fourth year, I was the Cadet Squadron Training Officer for 5 (Brock) Squadron. It was definitely worthwhile because I got to learn the very first aspects of being a leader and how to take care of your team. That helped me out a lot as time went on.”

Another major influence on his choice to become an Armour Officer was his father’s mandatory three years served in the South Korean Army. “I used to hear military stories when I was a kid. Also, one of my uncles served as a South Korean Artillery Officer so he used to tell me some aspects of being an officer.”

Armour Officer experiences

After graduating from RMCC with a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics, he went to New Brunswick for training at the Royal Canadian Armoured Corps School in Gagetown. He recalls that applying his leadership skills was top of mind when posted to his regiment in Edmonton.

“Being a newly qualified Armour Officer, I was definitely a bit concerned about leading real soldiers, both in garrison and in the field, constantly thinking of the subordinates’ welfare, and especially making the right decisions that achieved the mission,” he noted. “I strongly believe listening to the more experienced superiors and senior NCMs aided in overcoming the challenges. I was very lucky to have great leadership and guidance from all levels.”

Capt Jung received broad experience at the regiment during his time there. In 2015 when he was the 2 Troop Leader in A Squadron, he participated in collaboration training with the U.S. Army at Fort Hood. He also contributed that year to a combined exercise at the 29 Palms, U.S. Marine Corps Base, as part of 1 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Headquarters with the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade (U.S.) and 3 Commando Brigade (U.K.).

“For my third year at the regiment, I was employed as the Regimental Gunnery Officer who oversaw the conduct of tank ranges and gunnery courses/training.” He said the Army Direct Fire Specialist course he took prior to that provided the in-depth ballistics theory and technical information he needed. “It definitely helped me out with my position at that time,” he noted.

In his current posting as the Deputy Operations Officer (known as G3 Ops) for Canadian Forces Base Kingston Headquarters, he doesn’t get any opportunities to spend more time in tanks. He coordinates the use of base resources and facilities for units training for overseas deployment, including peace support training.

“The daily tasks are quite different compared to what I experienced back at my regiment in Edmonton. They do not involve much field time any more but the tempo is still quite high due to the task of supporting 40+ lodger units on the Base.”

The way forward

With all the current Canadian Armed Forces operations worldwide, Capt Jung said he is now looking forward to acquiring a deployment opportunity. “That’s my current goal. When I joined, Afghanistan was winding down and by the time I finished my Armour Officer training at CFB Gagetown, they had pulled the combat troops out of Afghanistan, so I just missed the window.”

“I definitely want to keep taking on the challenges that the military life has to offer. I know they can seem a little bit overwhelming sometimes but I still believe they offer invaluable experiences and life lessons that no other profession can offer.”

May, which is Asian Heritage Month in Canada, is a time to celebrate the many achievements and contributions of Canadians of Asian Heritage who have helped shape the diverse and prosperous country that is Canada today. This is one in a series of articles on Canadian Army members of Asian heritage.

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