Lieutenant-Colonel Rhonda Stevens assumed command of Canada’s West Coast 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron (442 Squadron) from Lt.-Col Bryn Elliott in a ceremony at 19 Wing Comox, Thursday, Aug. 8.
Colonel Dany Poitras was the presiding officer, and the audience included 19 Wing’s Honorary Colonel Robert Quartermain, 442 Squadron Honorary Colonel Dianne McCurdy, and local RCAF legend Wing Commander Retired James “Stocky” Edwards.
The squadron paraded its colours in front of a display of their aircraft, and several Search and Rescue technicians parachuted onto the drop zone behind the ceremony. After the parachute drop, both a CH-149 Cormorant helicopter and a CC-115 Buffalo aircraft flew over the ceremony while the outgoing and incoming commanding officers signed the ceremonial change of command certificates.
The first order issued by Lt.-Col Stevens was to authorize a day of minimum manning (a day off) for squadron personnel in recognition of the extraordinary efforts to organize and execute the many activities associated with the change of command while conducting their regular duties. She joked that the day off applied to everyone except the crews holding SAR alert and the back-up crews, and the aircraft maintainers, and the operations staff and the leadership team. She said, that would likely mean five people would enjoy a day off. This was meant to highlight the fact that the vast majority of 442 Squadron personnel are directly engaged in maintaining their constant readiness to save the lives of those in distress. Her welcoming speech ended as all SAR speeches do with a single word – Rescue!