Originally a Montréal native, Roger Girouard began his naval service at HMCS CARLTON in Ottawa as a Naval Reserve Ordinary Seaman Bos’n in 1973, before shifting to the permanent force and taking a commission as a Maritime Surface officer.
Becoming a qualified Destroyer Navigator, he navigated HMCS OTTAWA and participated on her Standing Naval Force Atlantic deployment and then the training destroyer HMCS QU’APPELLE before being assigned to VENTURE, the Naval Officer Training Centre. He completed the Combat Control Officer Course in 1984, then served as Weapons Officer aboard HMCS ALGONQUIN. In July of 1985 he was appointed as Commanding Officer of HMCS CHALEUR. Promoted to Lieutenant-Commander in January 1986, he undertook command of HMCS MIRAMICHI. Next, he served as Officer Commanding the Maritime Command Detachment in Argentia, Newfoundland, from July 1987 to August 1989, serving with the US Navy doing ocean surveillance.
He was appointed as Executive Officer in HMCS ATHABASKAN in January 1990, participating in OP FRICTION as part of the Gulf War in 1991. He was promoted to Commander and given the opportunity to participate in the international Naval Command College. Upon graduation in 1992, he was assigned to the Personnel Branch of Maritime Command Headquarters, where he served as Senior Staff Officer for Personnel, Plans and Policies.
In July 1994, he was appointed as Commanding Officer of HMCS IROQUOIS, completing her class modernization project trials and transferring the ship to full operational status in First Maritime Operations Group as flagship. Promoted to Captain in June 1996, he was assigned as the Deputy Commander Naval Reserve at the Naval Reserve Headquarters at Pointe-à-Carcy in Québec City.
In August 1998, he was appointed the Assistant Chief of Staff, Plans and Operations, Maritime Forces Atlantic, Halifax. He was the head of operations during the domestic emergency coined as OP PERSISTENCE – the CF element of the SWISSAIR 111 salvage and recovery operation off Peggy’s Cove in 1998, when he was responsible for planning the Canadian Forces element’s efforts, chaired the daily multi-agency coordination meeting and served as liaison to the families of the victims.
He then transferred to the Pacific, as Commander Operations Group Four, and deployed to command Canada’s joint force contribution to OP TOUCAN in East Timor, joining the Australian-led coalition tasked with managing the turmoil in the aftermath to the Timorese vote for independence. Upon return, he was allowed to complete his Master’s at Royal Roads University before being promoted to Commodore and assigned to National Headquarters as Director General Maritime Personnel and Readiness in Ottawa. A year later, he was tasked to take ROTO 4 of Canada’s post-9/11 maritime mission and led the multi-national naval Task Force 151 during OP APOLLO in the Arabian Gulf and Gulf of Oman in 2003.
His last appointment in the navy was as Commander Joint Task Force Pacific and Maritime Forces Pacific in Victoria, where he was responsible for naval readiness in the Pacific, served as the Search and Rescue Commander for the Region and held responsibilities for security and domestic emergency issues in BC, supporting planning for the Vancouver 2010 Olympics and the contingency work for potential flooding of the BC lower mainland in the Spring of 2007.
He retired from the Canadian Forces in September of 2007. He went on to serve as an associate professor at Royal Roads University supporting their Human Security and Peacebuilding Master’s Program. He was sought out to complete the Canadian Coast Guard Inquiry into the tragic sinking of the l’Acadien II, a sealing vessel home ported in the Magdalene Islands. As well, he had several volunteer lives, including the Canadian Defence Association Institute, the Salvation Army, the Coalition to End Homelessness, St. John Ambulance, Victoria Tall Ships and the TELUS Victoria Community Board.
In May of 2013, he assumed responsibilities as the Canadian Coast Guard’s Assistant Commissioner for Western Region, taking on the mandate of effectively delivering marine safety to the country’s dynamic west coast and supporting the roughly one thousand Coast Guard professionals who focus on protecting marine activities in Canada’s waters every day. Experienced in offshore operations, joint and interagency missions, disaster management as well as the realm of HR management, he brought many talents to an organization in transition. Within months, he was serving as the Incident Commander for the USAT ZALINSKI oil recovery effort in Grenville Channel. Over his tenure, he was instrumental in bringing enhanced operational capabilities to the Region, embedding the Incident Command System in its operational model and initiating a reset in the Coast Guard’s many relationships with the Indigenous communities of the coast.
Making a second attempt at retirement in early 2022, he and his wife of forty-five years, Rebecca, live in Sooke, B.C.