By Lieutenant-General Angus Watt
Another holiday season is upon us. It is a time to
reflect on the year that is drawing to a close,
ponder the lessons we have learned and count the
blessings that we enjoy.
It is also a time to extend best wishes to our
families and friends. I would like to send all of you
in our Air Force family – military personnel, civilian
employees and your families – the warmest of
greetings and best wishes for Christmas and the holiday season,
It has been another outstanding year for the Air Force and the Canadian Forces. Once again, Canadians have seen the dedication of the men and women of the Air Force.
But before I look at the events of this past year, I would like to touch on some of the significant events that have happened on December 25th throughout our history.
For instance, in 1535 Jacques Cartier and his crew celebrated Canada's first recorded Christmas at Stadacona, Québec. More than 300 years later, in 1855, soldiers in Kingston, Ontario played one of Canada’s first hockey games, using sticks and lacrosse balls. And in 1914, German and Allied troops along the
Western Front in Europe laid down their arms and started singing Christmas carols. They shook hands with their enemies, swapped cigarettes, and even played soccer.
The Christmas truce lasted only a short time, which serves to illustrate that we can’t take national security and defence for granted. They couldn’t take it for granted in the trenches in 1914 and we can’t take it for granted now. It’s likely we won’t be able to take it for granted in the future.
It’s you, the men and women of our Air Force, who help deliver that security and defence capability, day in and day out, here at home and around the world. As your Commander, I am extremely grateful for and proud of your enthusiasm, your
dedicated service and your unparalleled professionalism. You may also rest assured that your work is deeply appreciated by Canadians, by your colleagues throughout the Canadian Forces and Department of National Defence and by our
As we in the Air Force look back at the past year, we have many things to be thankful for and proud of. We’ve signed a contract to purchase Chinook helicopters and leased a new fleet of unmanned aerial vehicles for service in Afghanistan. We’ve signed a contract to acquire new Hercules tactical airlifters, and we now have all four of our magnificent Globemaster strategic airlifters. We’re also making sure our training systems and personnel policies are dedicated to supporting the Air Force, your careers and your families.
Next year looks equally promising.
Beginning in February, we’ll celebrate the Canadian Centennial of Flight and deploy our first Chinook helicopter crews – along with eight Griffon helicopters as escorts – to Afghanistan, We’ll put our new unmanned aerial vehicles into the air over Afghanistan, and our major equipment programs will advance even further.
None of this would be possible without you. Equally important, none of this would be possible without the support of your families who stand by you.
Therefore, I have a Christmas wish for you. If you can, enjoy your holidays with your families and loved ones: rest, relax, and recharge. If you are on duty near your homes or far away, be assured that you are in the hearts and thoughts of those who love you, and they are eagerly awaiting your safe return.
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and best wishes for 2009.