RCAF personnel on the winners’ podium in France

News Article / June 14, 2019

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By Captain Joey Thibault

The Royal Canadian Air Force’s  team took third place in the 20th edition of Exercise Air Raid held from June 7 to 9 at Base aérienne 942 Lyon-Mont Verdun, France.

After a 36-hour blitz, the team from 19 Wing Comox, British Columbia, successfully completed the 58 tests that evaluated skills including combat techniques, first aid, marksmanship and survival, as well as their military knowledge.

The RCAF team members were Aviator Miaya Cramb, an air operations support technician with 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron (air operations support technician is a brand new occupation within the RCAF Reserve); Aviator Kent Gilroy, an air operations support technician with 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron; Aviator Dax Klea, a plumbing and heating technician with 19 Wing Construction and Engineering Squadron, and Master Corporal Donald Miller, a supply technician with 19 Mission Support Squadron. In addition, Sergeant Stephane D’Aragon, a recruiter with 19 Wing Air Reserve Flight, served as team lead. All but Aviator Klea are members of the Reserve Force; competition regulations call for the teams to be composed of at least two reservists and one “active duty” member.

"Although the tests were tough, I'm proud of myself and what we have accomplished as a team,” said Aviator Cramb. "I'd do it again tomorrow!”

This year’s competition brought together 44 French teams and five foreign teams from Switzerland, Belgium, Germany, Canada, and a “foreign” team that was composed of French aviators currently serving outside of France; in total there were nearly 200 competitors.

During the competition, which was conducted rally-style, participants made the most of their military skills, theory and practice, bringing to bear their agility, endurance, and resistance to stress and fatigue. In addition to the more “classic” military challenges, some challenges were full of originality, including the tasting of insects! The whole event was an enormous undertaking, with no less than 600 people supporting the competitors throughout the exercise.

"The physical preparation and cohesion between the team members are the keys to success," explained Sergeant D'Aragon, the RCAF team lead. “We must capitalize on the experience we gained during this exercise to prepare for our next participation.”

Activities such as Exercise Air Raid give RCAF aviators new and challenging opportunities to hone their skills under pressure, to develop their abilities to work alone and as a member of a team, as well as to establish links with—and learn from—their colleagues in other air forces.

After saying he was pleased to see that the average age of RCAF competitors is trending downward, Colonel Arnaud Bourguignon, the commander of 942 Lyon Air Base, welcomed Canada’s continued participation, especially as it was the only team from outside of Europe in the competition.

Last year, the RCAF sent a team of five reservists from 438 Tactical Helicopter Squadron, located at Saint-Hubert, Quebec. Next year, Exercise Air Raid will be held at France’s 125 Istres Air Base, located in the Bouches-du-Rhône region.


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