John Kerry (Joe) Oakley was born in Vancouver, B.C. in 1943 and received his primary and secondary education in North Vancouver.
He served three years is the Army Cadets and another three years in the Militia with the Royal Canadian Engineers 6 Field Squadron prior to enrolling in the Canadian Army’s Officer Candidate Programme in September 1962. Commissioned in August 1963 in the Royal Canadian Army Service Corps, General Oakley served as a supply and transport officer in Whitehorse, Yukon and Vancouver.
He completed primary flying training at RCAF Station Centralia, Ontario and light aircraft and helicopter training at Rivers Manitoba in 1965 before joining 1 Transport Helicopter Platoon (RCASC) as a CH113A pilot. He flew with this unit in Rivers and St. Hubert, Quebec until April 1968. He next served three years as a flight commander with 403 Helicopter Operational Training Squadron in Petawawa, Ontario.
Returning to St. Hubert in 1971, he served as a staff officer and command instrument check pilot at 10 Tactical Air Group Headquarters until transferring to the Primary Reserves in 1973. As a reservist, he served as Deputy Commanding Officer 438 Squadron as a Major, Lieutenant -Colonel Commanding Officer of 401 Squadron and Senior Staff Officer Reserves at 10 TAG.
Promoted to Colonel in January 1986, he was appointed Commander of 1 Tactical Aviation Wing, the first Total Force organization within Air Command. In June 1989 he was transferred to the Air Command Primary Reserve List.
On 15 July 1994 Joe was promoted Brigadier-General and appointed Chief of Staff, Reserves and Cadets at Air Command Headquarters, Winnipeg.
He has successfully completed Staff Training Reserves (STAR 2) at Canadian Forces Staff College, Toronto and NATO Defence College as a member of the NATO Reserve Officers Course (NAROC) held in Rome during the summer of 1986. Most recently he was a 1992 graduate of Course XLV of the National Defence College, Kingston.
In civilian life Brigadier-General Oakley was employed by Air Canada where he served as a pilot from November 1973 until retiring as a Boeing 767 Captain in 2002. He married Diane Hervé of Montreal in 1981 and they had one daughter, Alexandra born in 1982.
In retirement he maintained his military affiliation by serving as a Director on the Board of the canadianarmyaviation.ca website.