Name: Corporal Pete VanEykeren
Home Town: Kitchener, Ont.
Occupation: Aviation Systems Technician (AVN)
Unit: “Canucks Unlimited” 436 Transport Squadron, 8 Wing Trenton, Ont.
Years in CF: 21
“Right where I need to be”
Ever since he was a kid, aircraft have always fascinated Cpl Pete VanEykeren. He remembers chatting up the aviators at air shows as they stood in front of their flying machines professing their love for aviation and their jobs that took them into the skies. Little did he know that these visits would be a major factor in choosing his career path in Canada’s Air Force.
Cpl VanEykeren put on the uniform of the Royal Canadian Air Cadets in 1984 when he became a member of 80 Squadron in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ont. Through the Cadets, a youth organization that focusses on leadership, citizenship, physical fitness and developing an interesting in the CF, he learned about Canada’s history and its democracy, survival skills and the evolution of aerospace technology.
He moved on to Canada’s Army Reserve in 1990, where he became a rifleman with the Royal Highland Fusiliers; eventually he changed his reserve occupation to weapons technician, and in 1994 he moved to Thunder Bay, Ont., where he joined 18 (Thunder Bay) Service Battalion.
After completing the aviation maintenance program at Confederation College in Thunder Bay, Cpl VanEykeren joined the Regular Force in 2001 as an AVN technician and was posted to 8 Wing Trenton, Ont., where he would spend the next nine years working on 8 Wing’s fleet of E- and H-model Hercules.
In 2010, he joined 436 Transport Squadron, which operates the Air Force’s newest aircraft, the CC-130J Super Hercules.
“The people I work with are the inspiration for me,” said Cpl VanEykeren. “They make every day feel like I am there and not just there doing work or simply having a job. 436 Squadron is a place that I am excited to get up and go every day.”
Perseverance paid off for him during the 2009 International Four Day Marches (Vierdaagse) in Nijmegen when he was awarded with both the Dutch Marches Medal and the Canadian Team Medal for his effort.
“There is nothing else I’d rather be doing,” he said. “Whether I am fixing airplanes, arming bombs on fighters, or getting ready for deployments overseas; it all involves meeting new people…so I am right where I need to be.”