Sergeant Ernest J. Whelan, CD

Ernest John Whelan was born on 15 June 1971 in New Brunswick. Ernie joined the Canadian Armed Forces in 1990. Upon graduation from the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLI) Battle School in Wainwright AB, he was posted to Winnipeg MB and the 2nd Battalion PPCLI. He spent time in both A and C Company’s but is most remembered for his time in Combat Support Company, Recce Platoon. He was influential in the guidance and development of many young up and coming Recce Patrolmen. His infectious humour and ability to see the positive when a mission was challenged by circumstance out of his control, provided confidence and morale to many soldiers who looked up to him a leader amongst warriors. Ernie was a decorated soldier completing three overseas tours of duty with the United Nations and NATO joint forces in the war-torn country of the former Yugoslavia.

After serving with the Canadian Army, he found a new challenge in the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) as a Search and Rescue Technician. He completed SAR selection in February 2003 and started Search and Rescue Training in Comox, B.C. with eleven other candidates on course 36. This tight knit team would become lifelong friends through the vigorous land, air and sea training. His peers admired his large humorous personality and attention to detail while completing complex life-saving tasks. His first position as a SAR Tech was at 435 Squadron in Winnipeg MB and he was posted back to Winnipeg.

After being diagnosed with diabetes shortly after the birth of his son, Ernie was removed from SAR operations. He was temporarily posted to the Canadian Forces School of Survival and Aeromedical Training and taught survival techniques and escape and evasion for the RCAF. Ernie’s chronic health condition became a formidable challenge. He volunteered his time to educate the Canadian Forces and public on how to function as a diabetic through various initiatives such as Gliding Thru Barriers, where he skied across Lake Winnipeg to raise awareness. And after a long battle with the CF, he succeeded in changing outdated military laws around members with diabetes, single-handedly changing the fate of all diabetics in the military forever.

He was married to Sheri on September 22, 2001 in Winnipeg and his son Tristan was born on May 27, 2008. He and Sheri divorced in 2013 but they maintained a close relationship. Ernie had many accomplishments but viewed being Tristan’s father as the greatest position he could ever hold. In 2014 Ernie retired from the CF and spent his time seeking opportunities to spend time in the outdoors and focused on raising his son. He passed away suddenly on April 9, 2024 and is missed by all who knew and loved him.

So That Others May Live

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