Normally I don't post content on this website that isn't music related but for this blog post I'll make an exception.
Back in February I had the pleasure of speaking to Chris Thombs who is currently A warrant officer in the Canadian Armed Forces.
Here is an article I wrote based on our conversation. Enjoy!
Being in the Armed Forces is not something to be taken lightly; it takes guts and determination. “You need to stay fit. Get yourself outside, get yourself to the gym – because a healthy body equals a healthy mind, equals the ability to deal with stress”, says Canadian Forces Warrant Officer, Chris Thombs.
Chris has been in the Forces in one capacity or another since 1993, and was mostly inspired by family and friends to join. When Chris was 13 years old, his father joined the Canadian Airborne Regiment and spent 5 years serving there. This would largely shape Chris’ future with the Canadian Forces.
Following tours in both Somalia and Bosnia, Chris travelled to Afghanistan for the first time at the beginning of the war in 2002 as a Detachment Commander. He was responsible for a four-man detachment that operated medium machine guns, anti-tank weapons and carried around a grenade launcher. Chris’ detachment was employed to support platoons on the ground.
During his final tour of Afghanistan in 2005-06, Chris was a Patrol Leader responsible for 9 guys in a Patrol Company. This role entailed planning and executing missions, liaising with the Afghan National Forces, providing security for diplomats, doing Shiras (meetings with local government officials), gathering intelligence and running force protection convoys for fuel trucks travelling between Kandahar city and Kandahar airfield.
“There’s three types of people that you run into when you go on a mission overseas,” says Thombs: “The ones that hate you, the ones that love you, and the ones that are indifferent - they don’t really care whether you’re there because you don’t really impact on their life, and if you start impacting on their life, they’ll either become the people that hate you, or the people that love you!”
Being a force on the ground wasn’t always part of the plan: “My plan was to do 3 years in the infantry, and then after that I’d become a photography technician in the Air Force.” Says Thombs.
Chris’ skydiving photography career started during his time in the Canadian Airborne Regiment, where he became qualified as a military freefall parachutist. His passion for still photography eventually led to work behind a video camera, and progressed to Chris Thombs being lead cameraman for the Canadian Forces’ Parachute Team, the Sky Hawks.
“I’m happy with what I’ve done so far, and I’m proud of what I’ve done so far because not a lot of people can do it.” says Thombs from his hotel in Vancouver.
When asked about the perks of his job, Chris says “The absolute best perk is my friends. I’ve been blessed because I’ve got guys that I’ve served with from back in the day who are not just my friends – some of them are my heroes.”
“But the type of people that I joined with and the type of people that are coming in now haven’t changed. I see the guys I went through training with in the new soldiers and sometimes we say, ‘The faces don’t change, just the names’.”
Warrant Officer Chris Thombs is the owner of One Step Beyond Photography
I recently interviewed Vancouver's own Rykka, winner of the 2013 PEAK Performance project at Our Town Cafe in downtown Vancouver. We covered everything from her boot camp experience to what its like living and creating music in Switzerland.