Colonel Richard Cowling, CD was born in Pontiac, Michigan and was educated in England, Canada and the United States. In 1953 Colonel Cowling joined the Lord Strathcona’s Horse. He was selected for officer training in 1956 and commissioned into The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada in 1958. He held various appointments of Rifle, Mortar and Reconnaissance Platoon Commander, Company 2IC and finally as Adjutant after a tour of regimental duty of over nine years with the 1st Battalion, QOR.
In 1967 he graduated from the Army College and became G3 (OPS) at Headquarters of 4th Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group (4CMBG) in Germany. While there he was promoted to Major. Upon return to Canada in 1970 he was posted to CFHQ as desk officer for Internal Security during the FLQ crisis. In 1971 he was posted to The Airborne Regiment as the Regimental Major, and in 1972 took command of 2 Commando.
In 1973 following his promotion to Lieutenant Colonel, he took command of 3rd Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (formerly 1 QOR of C). This was followed by a posting to Gagetown in 1975 as the Commanding Officer of the Infantry School where he was promoted to Colonel in 1976. Colonel Cowling then spent two years as the Deputy Chief of Staff (Training) at Mobile Command HQ and returned to Germany in 1978 to become the first Chief of Staff of HQ Canadian Forces Europe.
In 1980 he was appointed the Commander of the canadian Airborne Regiment and spent 1981 on operational tour in Cyprus. 1982 saw him attending The Royal College of Defence Studies in the United Kingdom. Colonel Cowling then spent five years at the Canadian Forces Liaison Staff as the Army Advisor, and completed his career as the Chief of Staff for Pacific Militia Area in 1989.
In retired life he remained active with the military. In 1992 he was called out to help review the National Defence Act with regards to the Code of Service Discipline. In his 60th year, he performed his last military parachute jump, and visited Bosnia and Croatia. He was called to testify to the Special Advisory Group on Military Justice conduced by Chief Justice Dickson and Lieutenant General Belzile.
Colonel Cowling was appointed Honorary Lieutenant Colonel of the Queen’s Own Rifles in April 2005 and served until April 2011 when he was succeeded by Brendan Caldwell.