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Veterans Memorial Advisory Committee Members

Archived Backgrounder

Veterans Memorial Advisory Committee Members

Ministry of Government and Consumer Services

Biographies of the members of the Ontario government's Veterans Memorial Advisory Committee are outlined below.

Major-General Richard Rohmer (Ret.), OC, CMM, DFC, O.Ont, K StJ, CD, OfL, QC, Committee Co-Chair

Major-General Rohmer has had several long and distinguished careers. He is a practicing lawyer and Queen's Counsel. He is also a best-selling author. MGen Rohmer is arguably Canada's most decorated citizen. In August 1990, he was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada and is also a Commander of the Order of Military Merit, a member of the Order of Ontario, a Knight of the Order of St. John, an Officer of the Order of Leopold (Belgium), and a Chevalier of the Legion of Honour (France). He holds the Jubilee Centennial, Confederation and the Queen's Golden Jubilee Medals, the Canada Defence Medal, and other Second World War medals and decorations. MGen Rohmer served with the Royal Canadian Air Force from 1942 to 1945 as a fighter reconnaissance pilot and took part in D-Day, the Battle of Normandy and the Battle for the Liberation of Holland. Post-war, he served in the Canadian Reserve Force as a fighter jet squadron commander, commander of the Air Reserve Group and as Chief of Reserves of the Canadian Armed Forces (1978-1981). He has served on the board of directors of several Canadian corporations. MGen Rohmer chaired the Advisory Committee to the Minister of Veterans Affairs Canada responsible for the organization and execution of the ceremonies marking the 60th Anniversary of D-Day (June 6, 2004) with emphasis on Juno Beach in Normandy. He is Chancellor Emeritus of the University of Windsor. In addition, MGen Rohmer is Honorary Chief Superintendent of the Ontario Provincial Police, Honorary Chief of the Toronto Emergency Medical Services, the Patron of Toronto St. John Ambulance, and Honorary Commanding Officer of the 707 Major-General Richard Rohmer Air Cadet Squadron of Etobicoke.

The Honourable Gerry Phillips, MPP, Committee Co-Chair

Mr. Phillips was appointed Minister of Government Services by Premier Dalton McGuinty in June 2005. Phillips first entered provincial politics in 1987, when he was elected to represent Scarborough-Agincourt in the Ontario legislature. Phillips was re-elected in 2003 and was appointed by Premier McGuinty to serve as the Chair of Management Board Committee of Cabinet. After graduating with an honours bachelor of commerce from the University of Western Ontario's School of Business, Phillips worked for Procter & Gamble. In 1970, he joined the consulting firm of Canadian Marketing Associates and became president in 1977. He later founded two spin-off companies. By 1987, he was chair of all three companies, employing 300 people. Phillips served as a school trustee for 11 years and during this period was chair of the Metropolitan Toronto School Board and the Scarborough Board of Education. He was also chair of the board of governors for Scarborough General Hospital and is a past president of the Bridlewood Community Association. Phillips coached in the Agincourt Lions Club Minor Hockey League for more than 25 years.

Captain Samuel W. Billich, CD, JP

Captain Billich, who has served as a Justice of the Peace in Toronto since 1998, has a long and distinguished record of military service. In 1979, he started his military career as a Private with the Canadian Forces Reserve, Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment. He has served in Northern Ireland, Germany and Great Britain, and was posted to The Queen's York Rangers in 1992. Billich was promoted to Captain in May 2000. Billich is the recipient of numerous awards and medals, including The Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal, the Venerable Order of St. John, the Military and Hospitaller Order of St. Lazarus, the Order of Merit - St Lazarus and the Canadian Forces' Decoration.

Lieutenant Colonel Julian Chapman, CD

Lieutenant Colonel Chapman is the past Commanding Officer of the Toronto Scottish Regiment (Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother's Own) and currently the Assistant Chief of Staff at 32 Canadian Brigade Group. He joined the regiment in 1980 as a Private and was commissioned in 1982. Throughout his military career, Chapman has trained soldiers, junior and senior officers at Canadian Forces Base Borden, Gagetown, Halifax, Kingston and Toronto. In 2000, Chapman led a contingent of over 100 soldiers, veterans, and Pipes and Drums to unveil a monument to the Second Canadian Division in Normandy, France and a plaque to the Regiment in Dieppe. In civilian life, Chapman is an executive coach and corporate leadership trainer with Forrest and Company, a business performance consulting firm specializing in corporate leadership development.

Major Robert J. Fenn, CD

Major Robert Fenn served as a senior officer of the Canadian Forces, Air Force Reserves from 1977 to 1991. During that period he served with 400 and 411 Squadron and Air Reserve Group Headquarters in various positions including Flight Officer, Operations Officer, Training Officer and Flight Commander. A recipient of the Canada Defence medal, he also served with the Supplementary Ready Reserve from 1992 to 1994. A member of the Law Society of Upper Canada, Fenn acts as a Special Lecturer to various federal government ministries as well as the Air Transport Association of Canada, on the legal implications of aircraft accidents or incidents and airlaw. He currently practices civil litigation, specializing in aviation litigation.

Major John R. Fisher, CD, AdeC, UE

Major Fisher represents the interests of The Grey and Simcoe Foresters Regiment and the United Empire Loyalists' Association of Canada, in his role on the committee. Deputy Commanding Officer of The Grey and Simcoe Foresters in Barrie and Owen Sound, Fisher is also an Aide de Camp to the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario. In 1999, Fisher retired as a Justice of the Peace with the Ontario Court of Justice (Criminal) at Barrie to return to full-time military service. In 2000, he served with the NATO peacekeeping mission in Bosnia-Herzegovina, stationed at Sarajevo and Banja Luka. Fisher continues a fine family tradition of service in the military. His ancestors fought on the Plains of Abraham in 1759, the Attack on Quebec in 1775, the American Revolutionary War, the War of 1812 and the First and Second World Wars. Fisher is currently on staff with the Joint Warfare Studies Division of the Canadian Forces College in Toronto.

Honorary Colonel Dr. Doris E. Guyatt, CD

Dr. Guyatt has served with the Canadian Forces Reserve for 17 years and as a military Aide de Camp to five Lieutenant Governors of Ontario, over a period of 27 years. Dr. Guyatt is past President of the Canadian Intelligence and Security Association and the Canadian Federation of Business and Professional Women's Clubs. She is currently Director of the Atlantic Councilof Canada, Director of the Royal Canadian Military Institute, Member of the College of Electors of the University of Toronto, Honorary Colonel of 25 (Toronto) Field Ambulance, and a consultant with D.E. Guyatt Development Services.

Carl L. Hayes

Carl L. Hayes is currently the Vice President East/Director Ontario South of the Canadian Merchant Navy Veterans Association. Mr. Hayes began his service as a member of the deck crew at the age of 15 years. He was elevated to ordinary seaman and served on a tanker carrying gasoline on the east coast and great lakes. Shortly thereafter, Mr. Hayes was signed on through the Vancouver manning pool to sail from the west coast to join the United Kingdom North Atlantic convoys. Mr. Hayes also sailed the pacific areas of war. Mr. Hayes received the Atlantic Star, Pacific Star, 1939/45 Star, the Volunteer Medal, Overseas medal, as well as the medal and pin of the United Kingdom Merchant Navy. He last served as a boatswain from 1943 to 1946. Following his career in the merchant navy, Mr. Hayes began a career in the transportation industry.

Chief Warrant Officer Scott F. Patterson, CD

Chief Warrant Officer Scott Patterson is the Regimental Sergeant Major of The Queen's Own Rifles of Canada. Patterson has been a member of the Canadian Forces Reserve since 1978, travelling to seven of Canada's provinces and two of its territories during that time. Son of a WWII veteran, Lieutenant Colonel Ivan Patterson, Patterson participated with Canadian veterans at the 50th anniversary commemoration ceremonies on the beaches of Normandy. Employed by the City of Toronto for the past 17 years, Patterson now works with the Toronto Emergency Medical Services.

Lieutenant Colonel Walter J. Perchal, CD

Lieutenant Colonel Perchal is currently the Commanding Officer of the Royal Regiment of Canada, the successor Regiment of the Toronto Regiment and the Royal Grenadiers. The history of this Regiment predates Confederation. During this career, Perchal has been the recipient of numerous awards and distinctions, including The Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal, the Norman Bethune Award for Outstanding Contributions to College Life and the Calumet College Master's Commendation. He was a Fellow of Norman Bethune College and is a Fellow of Calumet College at York University. He is a mentor for "Taking IT Global", a Director of the Atlantic Council of Canada, is a faculty advisor to the York Lions Hockey Team, and is actively involved in community life.

Ann Plunkett-O'Brian

Ann Plunkett-O'Brian was a telegrapher with the Women's Royal Canadian Naval Service who monitored Japanese Morse code signals off the west coast. She has been involved with the Art Gallery of Ontario for 50 years, including serving on the Board of Directors. She has also served with the Children's Aid Society of Metropolitan Toronto for 40 years, and is a supporter of the National Ballet School.

Gillian Reddyhoff, Curator, Archives of Ontario

The Curator for the Government of Ontario Art Collection (administered by Archives of Ontario), Gillian Reddyhoff, who was awarded The Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal in 2002, holds an Honours BA and an MA in art history from the University of Toronto. She has served as Curator at the City of Toronto Archives, Market Gallery, where she was responsible for curating numerous exhibitions featuring the City's archival and fine art collections. She has also taught courses in art history at the Nova Scotia College of Art & Design.

Commander Chris Ross, CD, HMCS York

Commander Ross began his naval military career with the Naval Reserves at HMCS Scotian in 1986 through the Summer Youth Employment Program. He held progressive positions including Junior Seaman, Leading Seaman, and Naval Control of Shipping Officer. After earning his commission and successfully qualifying as an NCS officer, Ross reclassified to Maritime Surface/ Sub-Surface while also earning his Bridge Watchkeeping Certificate in 1993. In 1997, Ross was appointed the first Executive Officer of HMCS Goose Bay, after which he assumed command of HMCS Shawinigan. He returned to HMCS Goose Bay and has been involved in various training and operational missions to the Caribbean, Europe and Canada's Arctic. Ross assumed command of HMCS York in 2004.

Lieutenant Colonel I.C.R. Sargeant, CD

Lieutenant Colonel Ian Sargeant enrolled as a reservist in the 48th Highlanders of Canada in 1981 and was commissioned as a Second-Lieutenant in 1987. He served the regiment in a variety of capacities prior to taking over command from 2002 to 2005. During 2004, he also commanded the domestic Response Unit of 32 Canadian Brigade Group. Sargeant was awarded the Canadian Forces Decoration in 1995 and The Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal in 2002. Now retired from the militia, Sargeant is currently employed as the technology relationship manager for the BMO Nesbitt Burns Privacy Client Division.

Captain Kevin P. Sheedy, CD

Captain Sheedy, Adjutant with The Queen's Own Rifles of Canada, joined the Princess of Wales Own Regiment as an Infantry Private in 1984 while attending Queen's University in Kingston. He was commissioned after completing officer training under the Reserve Entry Scheme in 1985 and transferred to The Queen's Own Rifles of Canada in 1989 as an Infantry Lieutenant. In addition to regimental duties, he has trained with regular and reserve forces in Australia and Canada's Arctic. In civilian life, Sheedy is a commercial mortgage lender with First National Financial Corporation.

Martin Venman

After leaving the Royal Canadian Navy in December 1945, Martin Venman joined the Royal Canadian Legion and has been actively involved in the veterans community over the past 60 years. He has held many offices at the Baron Byng Branch No.1 Royal Canadian Legion and has also served as District Commander in the Greater Toronto Area, Provincial Command Poppy Chairman and Provincial Honours & Awards Chairman. Currently, Venman serves on the Tri-Hospital Committee, the District Hospital Committee, the Sunnybrook Veterans Comfort Fund and assists veterans at home and in-hospital settings.

Garth Webb, MSC

A veteran of the D-Day landings and of the Battle of Normandy, Garth Webb is the driving force behind the creation of the Juno Beach Centre, an interactive education museum located on the Normandy coast of France. Webb is also a holder of the Meritorious Service Cross. The Centre, which officially opened on June 6, 2003, is a legacy of Webb's dedication and commitment. It preserves the memory of the accomplishments and sacrifices of Canadian soldiers, sailors and airmen on a critical day in the history of the world, and honours Canada's contribution to the Allied victory in World War II.