The Honourable Pamela Wallin, Honorary Colonel of the RCAF, visited 17 Wing Winnipeg on April 4th, 2012, touring some of the different schools and squadrons on base.
Her day started with a welcome brief from 17 Wing/AFTC Commander Col Blaise Frawley at the headquarters building and then she was off to the Canadian Forces School of Survival and Aeromedical Training (CFSSAT) and from there she headed over to 1 Canadian Forces Flying Training School, (1 CFFTS), followed by a walk upstairs to visit Canadian Forces School of Aerospace Studies (CFSAS).
In the afternoon, she visited the 1 Canadian Air Division and the Combined Air Operations Centre (CAOC) and then ended her tour at 435 Squadron. The evening culminated in an RCAF Mess Dinner held at the Officers’ Mess.
At each location HCol Wallin visited, she met with RCAF Members and talked with them about their roles and duties in the RCAF, giving her a better understanding of what they do every day.
Later, as she addressed the attendees of the annual RCAF 17 Wing Mess Dinner, held at the Officers Mess, HCol Wallin said she thoroughly enjoyed her visit to the units at 17 Wing.
“I was really, really impressed with the things I saw today here at 17 Wing,” said HCol Wallin. “I went to all of the school’s here and then over to 435 squadron and saw the CC-130 Hercules and the equipment they use for re-fuelling and met some of the SAR Techs, crazy guys and wonderful human beings who put everybody in the world ahead of themselves.”
During her speech, HCol Wallin talked about the fighter capability, and its importance to the men and women of 17 Wing Winnipeg, and the RCAF as a whole.
“I met a young CF-18 pilot in Ottawa and he flew 28 missions over and around Libya and was the first Canadian to drop bombs there to help protect civilian lives and I’m sure somebody from 435 Squadron here at 17 Wing re-fuelled that aircraft.”
“It [the fighter jet] is a piece of equipment that will allow us to capitalize, in a way, on the last 10 years of incredibly hard work and sacrifice. Canada has, on your backs, earned its way back to the international table, to a place where we are once again very respected by our allies and we need the ability to keep doing that,” she pointed out.
She also quoted Prime Minister Stephen Harper, saying “Our country’s great purpose is nothing less than to prepare to shoulder a bigger load in a world that will require it of us. We will be a courageous warrior, a compassionate neighbour and a confident partner. ” HCol Wallin said that’s a idea she likes because it reflects who we are as a country.
Another point she spoke about was that there really has been no media coverage of what we’ve done over in Afghanistan, and that for the past 10 years it has been only coverage of the fallen soldiers, “Those men and women didn’t die for the coverage of their deaths, they believed in what we were doing over there.”
“When we got there in 2001, there wasn’t one single girl in school, the boys were going to indoctrination centres and now there are 7 million kids in school. We’re building schools and teaching teachers and medical professionals to be able to offer services,” she said.
“Everywhere we are, you’ll go into these American bases…and there will be 40 Canadians and the Americans talk about us as partners. They really do see the talent level that is here,” said HCol Wallin.
Adding to comments made by a US Military Commander that we need Canadians in every coalition because as we go forward they bring an ethical soldier to the field, HCol Wallin added that it was also “because your heads and hearts are lined up.”
She ended her speech by saying, “Your legacy is a proud one and you need to stand up and carry it forward. Trying to anticipate what the world is going to be like, and what the next battle is going to be like is impossible. Who could have predicted 9/11, Afghanistan, or Libya?”
She went on to say “I’m so proud to be associated with you in this small way as an Honorary Colonel. Thank you for every single thing you do everyday.”