In 1954, nineteen-year-old Mike Zrymiak drove into Regina to follow a whim and enlist in the RCAF. Three decades later, he retired as commander of CFB Edmonton, after a career that saw him flying Harvards to Cosmopolitans, nervous students to royalty. It was also the Cold War, which meant postings to Europe where he often came face-to-face with a very nervous enemy.
As one of seven children born to Ukrainian immigrant-farmers in Saskatchewan during the Great Depression, thoughts of becoming a pilot and an officer were the furthest from anyone’s mind – including Mike’s. Yet Mike discovered his passion in flying, and found himself thriving in an environment that demanded both discipline and initiative. While he, like many of his generation, consider the unification experiment of 1968 the nadir of his time in service, his career afforded many high points as well, including serving as Harvard instructor to NATO pilots, pilot with 412 Squadron flying VIPs, protocol officer with Northern NORAD Region HQ North Bay, commander of Lahr Airfield, studies at the National Defence Staff College, military attache to Czechoslovakia, deputy commander of Air Command Air Reserves, and commander of CFB Namao.