Col William Radiff transfers command of 409 Squadron to LCol Mark Hickey


Col William Radiff, left, Col Paul Doyle and LCol Mark Hickey sign the Change of Command documents.
Photo: Cpl Manuela Berger, Wing Imaging

Jeff Gaye

“How do you say goodbye when you don’t want to leave?” Col William Radiff said at the 409 Tactical Fighter Squadron Change of Command parade.

In spite of a promotion and a new appointment as Wing Commander of 3 Wing Bagotville, Col Radiff confessed to strongly mixed emotions as he turned over command of the squadron to LCol Mark Hickey last month.

Col Radiff credited the squadron’s “fantastic” maintenance program and the excellence of its aircrew for making it “the most combat capable squadron in the RCAF.” He also singled out the squadron’s support elements as vital force enablers.

Col Radiff had never served in 409 Squadron when he took command two years ago.

“My time here has been nothing short of incredible,” he said. “Now I will be a Nighthawk forever.”

4 Wing Commander Col Paul Doyle was the Change of Command parade’s reviewing officer. “During your time with the Nighthawks, you have proven yourself to be a most capable and respected leader,” he told Col Radiff. He commended Col Radiff on 409 Squadron’s role in 4 Wing’s “24-hour no-fail NORAD mission.”

“Your team has held vigil over this mission, without fail, over countless evaluations and during real-world operations,” he said.

Col Doyle said 3 Wing is lucky to have Col Radiff as its new leader, but added “you will always have a home here in Cold Lake.”

Col Doyle welcomed LCol Hickey back to 409 Squadron. His appointment as Commanding Officer is LCol Hickey’s third posting to the unit, and comes at a time when the squadron is preparing to deploy to Romania in support of Operation Reassurance.

“Under the leadership of LCol Hickey, I have every confidence the job will get done with the highest levels of professionalism and precision,” Col Doyle said. “I know you will take on this role with the devotion and conviction required to support your people.”

LCol Hickey said he is “extremely honoured and extremely humbled” to assume command of “the best fighter squadron in the country.”

“My devotion to this unit is deep, and it’s unwavering,” he said. “It’s the place where I learned my craft as a fighter pilot. It’s where I learned how important the troops you see standing in front of you on parade are to a highly functioning unit. And it’s where I learned how to start my own journey in the RCAF as a leader.”

To the squadron members, he said “you don’t work for me, I work for you.”

LCol Hickey said he won’t need to make many changes in the squadron, thanks to the leadership of Col Radiff. He also thanked Col Doyle for his “leadership, mentorship and trust.”

“I will do all I can to keep the Nighthawks proud and safe from harm while ensuring that we’re always ready to serve our nation in whatever missions our country may ask of us,” he said.