New honorary colonel for 16 Wing Borden

News Article / October 29, 2018

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16 Wing Public Affairs

Royal Canadian Air Force personnel at 16 Wing Borden, Ontario, welcomed a new honorary colonel on October 12, 2018, and said farewell to their former honorary colonel.

Colonel Pascal Godbout, commander of 16 Wing, presided over the investiture ceremony. Colonel Andrew Atherton, commander of Canadian Forces Base Borden where 16 Wing is a lodger unit, and Chief Warrant Officer Michael Charette, base chief warrant officer, were among the guests in attendance.

16 Wing personnel recognized Honorary Colonel emeritus Bill Coyle for his stalwart service and essential contributions to the wing. “I would be remiss if I did not re-iterate our deepest thanks to you for your contribution to military and civilian aviation, and your willingness to share your experience and sage advice with the wing,” said Colonel Godbout.

Honorary Colonel Coyle dedicated 17 years to serving as honorary colonel of 16 Wing’s Canadian Forces School of Aerospace Technology and Engineering (CFSATE) from January 1997 to October 2010 and of 16 Wing from October 2013 until April 2018, at which time incoming Honorary Colonel Renee Van Kessel was appointed.

After the formal investiture documents were signed, Colonel Godbout welcomed Honorary Colonel van Kessel.

“Over the years, honorary colonels have been appointed for the prominence they hold in the community but more importantly as a mark of esteem,” he said. “You are joining a select group of distinguished Canadians from all spectrums of society”.

It is an “especially significant and humbling privilege” to be offered the opportunity to become the next 16 Wing honorary colonel, Honorary Colonel van Kessel told the audience. She expressed her gratitude to those who have supported her career and the nomination and added she is looking forward to working with the wing in the future. 

Honorary Colonel Renee van Kessel is the principal of the corporate-commercial law practice, van Kessel Law, based in Toronto, Ontario, and possesses more than 23 years’ experience in private practice and as in-house counsel,

About RCAF Honorary Colonels

Honorary Colonels are integral members of the Air Force “family”. They may be former Air Force officers or distinguished Canadian citizens, hailing from a diverse range of backgrounds, including many well-known public and community figures.

Honorary Colonels are "honorary and advisory" but are, in effect, officers in virtually all respects except operations. They are vital to fostering esprit de corps within the family. They may mentor the commanding officer and members of the unit, help build relationships with other units through the honorary colonel network, and aid in ensuring the maintenance of customs and traditions. By their very presence and name, they build and develop community support for their units by providing a public profile—a public face—for the unit. Perhaps one of their most important attributes, however, is simply the time they spend with all members of the unit, no matter what their rank or position, just as a highly respected member of the family would.


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