Remembrance Day very important for 19 Wing Comox

Today, people across the Comox Valley will take the time to reflect upon the sacrifices the men and women of the Canadian Forces have made.

COL. JIM BENNINGER (saluting) confirms that Nov. 11 is a very important day for 19 Wing Comox.

Today, people across the Comox Valley will take the time to reflect upon the sacrifices the men and women of the Canadian Forces have made in the past and continue to make every day.It’s no different for the members of 19 Wing Comox, many of whom will participate in Remembrance Day ceremonies up and down Vancouver Island.”Remembrance Day is an important day for all of us in uniform, reminding us of the connection to those who came before us and those who made the ultimate sacrifice so we can enjoy peace and prosperity in Canada,” wing commander Col. Jim Benninger said in an interview.”Being in uniform, we have something in common, and in many ways, we are trying to fight for the same things the veterans have, to preserve the society we have in Canada, which is recognized as one of the best in the world. We’re very fortunate to live here.”The men and women of 19 Wing Comox spend a lot of time in the community at this time of year, marching in Remembrance Day parades, conducting fly-pasts during the ceremonies, spending time with members of the Royal Canadian Legion and Air Force Association of Canada, and speaking at school assemblies across the Comox Valley.”It’s really as a response to the community’s desire to honour those in uniform and especially those who have been injured or killed in the line of duty,” said Benninger. “Being offered an invitation to attend Remembrance Day ceremonies and to go into schools really speaks to the appreciation they have for what we do and, when we talk of schools in particular, of the interest they have in hearing from a veteran and helping educate the next generation on exactly what we have as a society and what the price has been in terms of the sacrifice of our uniformed personnel.”Today, members of 19 Wing will participate in Remembrance Day ceremonies as far north as Gold River and as far south as Nanaimo, and they will conduct numerous fly-pasts.Members will also spend a lot of time with Royal Canadian Legion and Air Force Association veterans, and Benninger himself will speak at a breakfast at the Courtenay Legion prior to the ceremony at the nearby cenotaph.Members of 19 Wing will also host a welcoming event for some of the veterans on the base.The past couple of weeks have been very difficult for the Canadian Forces, with the loss of SAR Tech Sgt. Janick Gilbert of 424 Squadron at 8 Wing Trenton, who was killed during a rescue mission in Nuvavut on Oct. 27, and the loss of Master Cpl. Byron Greff, who was serving with the Edmonton-based Third Battalion of Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry when he was killed during a training mission Oct. 29 in Afghanistan, noted Benninger.”They remind us that freedom and safety comes at a heavy price,” he said. “We’re very proud of Sgt. Gilbert and Master Cpl. Greff, and we’ll be thinking of them especially this Remembrance Day.”In the past year, members of 19 Wing have been busy serving the country in a number of overseas operations.The Wing recently welcomed home members who participated in Operation Mobile, the Canadian Forces’ participation in the NATO-led effort to impose an arms embargo and no-fly zone on Libya.”While they were there, they performed with the professionalism Canadians have come to expect from the air women and men of the Royal Canadian Air Force,” said Benninger.Members of 19 Wing have also been involved in the NATO Training Mission in Afghanistan, training the  national security forces of Afghanistan. “When people are away from the Wing, we have a little less horsepower on the Wing, so those who are behind have to work a little harder to fill the gap, and that was especially noticeable with Operation Mobile,” said Benninger. “However, one of the things we are able to do is fulfill our Search and Rescue response.”writer@comoxvalleyrecord.com

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