Robert Cook was surprised to hear honking horns outside his Colwood home on Tuesday.
The military man who spent nearly 40 years in service to the Canadian Armed Forces and Royal Canadian Navy was greeted by dozens of cars, each filled with close friends and coworkers, for a drive-by celebration.
As of Feb. 3, Chief Petty Officer Cook is officially retired from his 37-year career at CFB Esquimalt.
“There’s really not going to be any finality to it,” said Kathy Cook, his wife. “A regular ceremony is quite emotional, with coworkers sharing their favourite stories as a final thank you.”
Kathy organized the drive-by to celebrate, as provincial health orders restrict in-person gatherings.
Cook first joined the naval reserves as a radar plotter in 1983. Four years later, he transferred to the regular force in naval combat information where he completed tours on several ships including HMCS Calgary, HMCS Thunder and HMCS Winnipeg.
“He’s caring, but he can be very serious and stern when he needs to be. Our kids used to say to him, ‘We’re not your [sailors],’” chuckled Kathy.
Robert and his wife have been married 30 years and raised their two children in Colwood since moving to the municipality in 1992.
In a rare occurrence, Cook’s never had to relocate outside of CFB Esquimalt. In total, Kathy estimates her husband has been away from home for three years, with trips to train or work between a few weeks and six months.
Though he’s stepping back from his gig he won’t be getting too much rest.
Cook, 55, is making the switch to a new career in a public service position at CFB Esquimalt as the new base personnel administration officer. He’ll be acting as a civilian supervisor.
Kathy said her husband’s days will be more regimented and give him more time at home, when he’s not involved with refereeing minor hockey and lacrosse on the West Shore.
“There’s never been many free moments for him,” she said. “The day that he can play golf for six months at a time is his dream.”
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