RCAF LCol John Roper receives U.S. Legion of Merit

“The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 20, 1942, has awarded the Legion of Merit (Degree of Legionnaire) to Col John A. Roper, Royal Canadian Air Force, Canada.”

So opens the text accompanying a prestigious recognition of the character, abilities, actions and leadership acumen of one of the RCAF’s own. Currently, Roper is the Mission Support Squadron commanding officer at 22 Wing/Canadian Forces Base North Bay, Ont.

The text goes on to read, “For exceptionally meritorious service as branch chief, Command and Control Missions Services and deputy chief, Joint Operations Center, Headquarters, North American Aerospace Defense Command, Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., from July 2015 to July 2019.

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“Col Roper displayed exceptional leadership and strategic vision and directly facilitated support to multiple disasters, national special security events, dignitary travel and National Capital Region Air Defense.

“As the vice chief of the Cyberspace Operations Division, he completed the bi-national memorandum of agreement for defensive cyber operations in the United States and Canada revision with United States Cyber Command. With the addition of Cyber Command as a signatory with the commands, the document links all strategic and operational organizations responsible for the defense of North America in cyberspace through the necessary guidance on authorities and responsibilities to defend North America’s key terrain in cyberspace.

“His decisive leadership, extraordinary command presence, commitment to mission, and concern for personnel were the driving force in successful accomplishment of the command’s missions. Col Roper’s superior effort, outstanding leadership, and personal initiative reflect great credit upon himself, the Royal Canadian Air Force, and his country.”

“It was a very humbling experience to receive the Legion of Merit,” said Roper. “I was extremely fortunate to be provided an opportunity to work with a talented team dedicated to addressing the next battlefield – cyberspace.”

“My team at home, led by my wife, Lori, allowed me the time to succeed, and for that I am eternally grateful,” he continued.

Roper was born in Charlottetown, P.E.I. He joined the Canadian Armed Forces in 1994 as a reservist, and deployed to Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1999 as a member of Roto 4, Operation Palladium.

In 2002, he transferred to the regular force as a communications and electronics (CELE) officer. Posted to the Canadian Forces Joint Signal Regiment at Canadian Forces Kingston, Ont., he served as the regimental requirements officer and, while there, deployed to Kandahar, Afghanistan in 2006 in support of Operation Athena. He has been posted to the Directorate of Air Personnel Strategy in Ottawa, Ont., 22 Wing/CFB North Bay, Ont., as the wing telecommunications and information services officer, and in 2012 was posted back to Ottawa with the Directorate of Military Careers as the CELE career manager.

After completing the Joint Command and Staff Program at the Canadian Forces College in 2013, Roper was posted back to Ottawa to the assistant deputy minister (information management) organization as executive assistant to the chief of staff where, in 2015, he was promoted to his current rank. He was then posted to the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) where he was employed in the Command and Control Mission Services Branch. While in Colorado Springs, Colo., he was promoted to “colonel acting while so employed”, working in the Joint Cyber Center, focusing on Binational Cyber Operations. In July 2019, Roper assumed his current position.

The Legion of Merit can be awarded to any member of the United States Armed Forces or of any friendly foreign nation. The U.S. Secretary of Defense is the approving authority when the Legion of Merit is awarded to a member of the foreign military.

Other Canadians who have received the Legion of Merit include Gen John de Chastelain (commander); LGen Joseph Bouchard (commander); Gen Andrew Leslie (commander), Col Todd Balfe (commander), VAdm Mark Norman (commander), A/C Leonard Birchall (officer), LGen Romeo Dallaire (officer), and MGen Brett Cairns (officer) who, at one point in his career, was also posted to Canadian Forces Base North Bay.

The Legion of Merit is seventh in precedence, after the Defense Superior Service Medal and before the Distinguished Flying Cross Medal.

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