Wildfires provide dramatic setting for 417 Squadron Change of Command

Change of Command 417 Squadron

Maj Alexia Shore, left, is the new CO of 417 Squadron after signing the Change of Command documents with Col Paul Doyle and outgoing CO LCol Brad Steels.
Photo: MCpl Brent Kenny, MARPAC Imaging Services

Jeff Gaye

Last week’s Change of Command parade for 417 Combat Support Squadron was supposed to take place at 6 Hangar, 4 Wing Cold Lake. But with the squadron deployed to help British Columbia deal with its devastating wildfire season, those plans had to change.

The parade was held on the tarmac of Kamloops Airport. Maj Alexia Shore assumed command from LCol Brad Steels, who has been Commanding Officer since July 11, 2014.

The Reviewing Officer was 4 Wing Commander Col Paul Doyle.

LCol Steels said holding the parade in the field “is a sign of how busy this small squadron can be at times.”

“The first day I assumed command of 417 Squadron, it was evident that the team would look after their CO to ensure the success of the unit and for that I will always be grateful,” he said. “My focus has been to set high standards, give clear direction and then keep out of the way while people do their work. I have not been disappointed – my sincere thanks to all 417 Squadron members.”

Col Doyle commended the squadron on its “sense of purpose, sense of unity, and sense of mission.” He said LCol Steels has done a “fantastic job.”

“You’ve taken care of your people and been a model citizen for them to emulate,” he said.

He said Maj Shore has an advantage taking command, as she was being appointed from within 417 Squadron.

“You have been invested in what 417 does,” Col Doyle said. “I know you have the confidence and the trust of the people who will be working with you, and you will be able to deliver. You are the right person for this job.”

Maj Shore thanked the squadron’s personnel for their dedication to their open-ended mission in BC, and she thanked LCol Steels for being “a fantastic boss.”

She said she had been reluctant to leave her role flying tactical helicopters two years ago and come to a combat support unit, but she came to love the flying she has done with 417 Squadron. So much so, in fact, that she was then reluctant to accept the promotion and eventual designation as CO.

“I knew that meant I would have to leave after three years, and I just want to stay here,” she said.

417 Squadron has two CH-146 Griffon helicopters and ten personnel deployed as part of the Air Task Force supporting Operation Lentus. Three CH-147F Chinook helicopters are also working out of Kamloops, and two CC-130J Hercules aircraft are assisting from 19 Wing Comox.