Sgt. Spur­vey re­tires from mil­i­tary

Long­time mil­i­tary man from Pla­cen­tia Bay served nearly four decades with Cana­dian Forces


Fox Har­bour na­tive Harold Spur­vey has re­tired from the Cana­dian Forces fol­low­ing a ca­reer that spanned nearly four decades. Spur­vey re­sides in Frank­ford, Ont., and fin­ished his ca­reer as a re­source man­age­ment sup­port clerk at 8 Wing Tren­ton. He was re­centy hon­oured dur­ing an NHL game in Toronto. For full story by Danette Doo­ley,

Fri­day, April 11 was a mo­men­tous day for Harold Spur­vey. The day marked the Fox Har­bour na­tive’s 60th birth­day as well as his re­tire­ment from a mil­i­tary ca­reer that spanned al­most four decades.

The week leading up to his re­tire­ment was an ex­cit­ing one for Spur­vey.

On April 3, the Toronto Maple Leafs in­vited him to the Air Canada Cen­tre (ACC) to watch the team take on the Bos­ton Bru­ins. Spur­vey is a long­time Leafs fan. He took his el­dest son Aubrey to the game. Aubrey, who is also serv­ing with the mil­i­tary, is a Bru­ins fan.

The fa­ther and son both wore their uni­forms to the game, which saw the Leafs squeak out a win in over­time.

The vic­tory was sweet for Spur­vey, but per­haps even more mem­o­rable was the mo­ment his team ac­knowl­edged his tremen­dous con­tri­bu­tion to the Cana­dian Forces.

“We were treated great and when they read out my bio, the cam­era showed me live on the Jum­botron. I re­ceived a stand­ing ova­tion and was con­grat­u­lated through­out the in­ter­mis­sion as we walked through the ACC,” Spur­vey said dur­ing a tele­phone in­ter­view.

Fam­ily ties

Spur­vey grew up in a large fam­ily. He had 14 sib­lings, three of whom are de­ceased. Like most young boys from Fox Har­bour, he spent his sum­mers play­ing soft­ball.

“That’s what we did when we woke up in the morn­ing un­til it got dark at night.”

Spur­vey’s mil­i­tary ca­reer started in 1973, the year af­ter he grad­u­ated from Laval High School in Pla­cen­tia. His first post­ing was to Gan­der, where he worked in an ad­min­is­tra­tive role be­fore mov­ing on to Petawawa, Ont.

He left the mil­i­tary af­ter serv­ing for three years, but re-en­rolled in 1979.

“When I got out, I thought the grass was greener on the other side and it took me three years to fig­ure out it wasn’t.”

Spur­vey trans­ferred from the reg­u­lar forces to the air re­serves in 2009 to take a po­si­tion at 9 Wing Gan­der.

His post­ings through the years in­cluded time served in sev­eral other Cana­dian prov­inces and in St. John’s and Happy Val­ley-Goose Bay.

One of the high­lights of his ca­reer was his four-year post­ing to the Cana­dian Em­bassy in Oslo, Nor­way where he worked as a mil­i­tary rep­re­sen­ta­tive deal­ing with de­fense de­part­ments in Nor­way, Den­mark and Swe­den.

“While we were there, they had the Win­ter Olympics in Lille­ham­mer ( 1994). My youngest boy ( Jamie) was too young to re­mem­ber but my old­est boy re­mem­bers it. We went to some hockey games. It was great.”

While Aubrey fol­lowed in his fa­ther’s mil­i­tary foot­steps, Jamie, who lives in the Tren­ton area, is carv­ing a life as an up-and-com­ing coun­try mu­sic singer/song­writer.

Mar­ried to the mil­i­tary

Spur­vey’s wife Dana (nee Pike) is from St. John’s. She ad­mits be­ing the spouse of a mil­i­tary mem­ber can be stress­ful. It can also be very re­ward­ing.

Like most spouses, she has of­ten put her ca­reer on hold when her hus­band was trans­ferred to an­other base.

It’s dif­fi­cult mov­ing to a new en­vi­ron­ment and se­cur­ing em­ploy­ment when you’re not fa­mil­iar with a place or know any people, she said.

As well, she said, some em­ploy­ers are re­luc­tant to hire once they known you are a mil­i­tary spouse.

“Then, when you fi­nally do find em­ploy­ment in your field, you are not there very long be­fore it’s time to move once again. It is a sac­ri­fice we must make and (we) un­der­stand our hus­bands are mar­ried to the mil­i­tary and we come sec­ond. To­day there is a whole lot more sup­port than there was years ago. No mat­ter where life takes us, home is what you make yourself.”

Spur­vey’s wife said their sons ad­justed well to mil­i­tary life. While leav­ing friends be­hind wasn’t easy, she said, mov­ing was some­thing they grew up with.

“Harold and I al­ways say, ‘mil­i­tary life is an ed­u­ca­tion in it­self, es­pe­cially for the chil­dren.’ They both still keep in con­tact with many friends through­out the world.”

The cou­ple plan on con­tin­u­ing their re­tire­ment in On­tario, a short dis­tance from Aubrey, his wife Sylvia and the Spur­vey’s only grand­child, Jaymes.

Spur­vey’s com­mand­ing of­fi­cer, Maj. Mike Stod­dart , s a id the sergeant’s great­est con­tri­bu­tion to the mil­i­tary was his will­ing­ness to share, with oth­ers, what he has learned through his ca­reer.

“At 8 Wing I uti­lize Sgt. Spur­vey in a train­ing po­si­tion where I send him to any units or in­di­vid­u­als that would like additional train­ing un­der­stand­ing poli­cies or pro­ce­dures. His abil­ity to pro­vide as­sis­tance in a very clear and re­laxed man­ner is al­ways com­mented on when I get feed­back from the units.”

Stod­dart said he will miss Spur- vey ’s work ethic and sense of hu­mour.

“Sgt. Spur­vey has the abil­ity to say the right thing at the right time to make people laugh and defuse most sit­u­a­tions. Ev­ery­one here in my branch are ex­tremely proud of Harold and are happy to see him move on to his next chal­lenge. But, he is the type of in­di­vid­ual that brings so much to the ta­ble. He will be missed.”

Say­ing good­bye

Age 60 is com­pul­sory re­tire­ment age for mil­i­tary mem­bers. Stay­ing on wasn’t an op­tion, Spur­vey said.

It’s a ca­reer that he has never re­gret­ted.

“The mil­i­tary is a great way of life. I’ve en­joyed it a great deal. It’s been awe­some. And I would en­cour­age any­body who wants to have a great ca­reer to give it a try.”

Sgt. Harold Spur­vey in uni­form.

Harold Spur­vey and his wife Dana Spur­vey.

Sub­mit­ted pho­tos

Harold Spur­vey with his grand­son, two-year-old Jaymes. Jaymes will be three in May.

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