Honorary Colonel (HCol) Loreena McKennitt – Canadian Armed Forces Photo
On the eve of the Royal Canadian Air Force 2024 Centennial, I would like to take a few moments to express my heartfelt joy in being the RCAF Honorary Colonel during this extraordinary moment in history.
Anniversaries happen every year, but a Centennial happens once. Let’s use this occasion to celebrate and commemorate. Let’s celebrate a century of excellence and let’s commemorate the many brave members who gave the ultimate sacrifice.
For 17 years I have had the awesome privilege being an honorary colonel. It all began, in 2006, with 435 Transport and Rescue Squadron at 17 Wing in Winnipeg.
The members of the RCAF whom I’ve gotten to know so well have given me an education I wish I had received at school; an education which I believe every citizen deserves and needs to have. And sadly, probably does not.
I have witnessed first-hand — and often from the back of a C130 Hercules aircraft – re-supply missions to our northern-most communities, search and rescue procedures, air-to-air refueling during major training exercises, national sovereignty operations across Canada and the Far North including my memorable visit to Alert, on Ellesmere Island in Nunavut – the northernmost continuously inhabited place in the world.
I have visited our people in theatres of operations such as Lithuania, Romania, and Kuwait.
I experienced – in flight – the rigours of a Canadian Forces Snowbird’s training mission in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. And during the Afghanistan conflict, witnessed the sobering repatriation ceremonies of fallen Canadians being brought home to Canada through Trenton, Ontario.
I have nothing but great admiration and profound pride in you who serve or have served with the Royal Canadian Air Force. And that goes double for your families. Family support is critical. The missed birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, and every other important family occasion is a testament to your courage and fortitude in being intimately associated with military life.
The New Year will usher in a dynamic array of Centennial activities, events, air shows and banquets. Spread the word. The Centennial of the Royal Canadian Air Force is just around the corner, and I look forward to celebrating and commemorating with all of you.