Earlier today, 8 Air Communication and Control Squadron (8 ACCS) hosted a ceremony to officially invest Loyalist College President Maureen Piercy as their Honorary Colonel. Many VIPs and dignitaries, including Northumberland-Quinte West Member of Parliament Rick Norlock, Colonel Russ Williams, 8 Wing Commander and Colonel Rainbird, 8 Wing Honorary Colonel, were on hand at Canadian Forces Base Trenton to witness the investiture. The ceremony was followed by a Change of Command parade to formally transfer command of the Squadron from Major Walter Norquay to Major Cathy Blue.
President Piercy was recommended for the role of Honorary Colonel by senior staff at 8 ACCS and appointed to the position by the Minister of National Defence, the Honourable Peter McKay on May 12, 2009. During her three-year tenure, her role will be fundamental to Squadron life. The long-standing tradition of Honorary Colonels, adopted from the British Military over a century ago, involves the selection of a high-standing member of the public charged to provide a conduit between the unit and the Canadian people.
Major Walter Norquay, former Commanding Officer of 8 ACCS who recommended President Piercy for the appointment stated, “With her appreciation for the work of the Canadian Forces and by virtue of her prominent place in the local community, President Piercy was an exceptional candidate as Squadron Honorary Colonel. Not only will Colonel Piercy wear the Air Force uniform, she will be a guardian of the Squadron’s traditions. She will be an ambassador between the local community and the Canadian Forces that serve it. She will remind the public of the operations the CF conduct every day and remind the men and women of 8 ACCS and 8 Wing/CFB Trenton of the pride the public so frequently displays.”
Welcomed by both the 8 Wing Commander Colonel Russ Williams, and Major Norquay, Colonel Piercy became part of a very specialized and distinguished squadron within the Air Force.
“I am deeply honoured to be appointed to this position,” said President Piercy. “8 Wing/CFB Trenton is a very important part of our region and Loyalist College is proud to be a partner with the Base in many initiatives which benefit our communities. I am strongly committed to effectively fulfilling the role of Honorary Colonel of 8 Air Communication and Control Squadron. During recent 40th anniversary celebrations for the Squadron, I had the opportunity to meet many of the impressive men and women who have served with 8 ACCS. It is a real privilege to have the opportunity to serve in this capacity.”
In her remarks, President Piercy announced Loyalist’s participation in “Project Hero”, a program which provides free tuition for dependents of Canadian Forces personnel who are killed while serving in an active military mission. “Loyalist is the first College to announce its involvement with this program,” she explained. Loyalist will provide financial assistance for tuition fees for up to six semesters and on-campus residence fees for the first two semesters for those eligible. This scholarship program is effective from September 1, 2009 to August 31, 2014.
Loyalist Board Chair Margaret Werkhoven commented that President Piercy’s appointment reflects the important relationship between 8 Wing/CFB Trenton and Loyalist College. “We have enjoyed a strong relationship over the years with our neighbours at 8 Wing/CFB Trenton and we look forward to developing those ties in even more meaningful ways in the future,” she said. “The Board is delighted that the College President is being recognized as the Honorary Colonel of 8 ACCS.”
Established in 1969, 8 ACCS is responsible to deploy a “full network enabled airfield” anywhere in the world with only 72 hours notice. The capability consists of airfield radar equipment, air navigation aids, portable airfield lighting, a plethora of radios and satellite communications complete with a team of operators and technicians. An integral part of Air Force operations, 8 ACCS conducts over 20 domestic deployments in a typical year to places as far north as Canadian Forces Station Alert, only 817 km south of the North Pole and as far south as Hawaii or Florida. 8 ACCS is also regularly tasked to provide support to expeditionary operations around the world. In the past year, 8 ACCS personnel have been tasked on two occasions to assist in the establishment of new capabilities at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan. Surprisingly, the Squadron is comprised of only 39 regular force members, nine reserve force members and one Public Servant. Boasting the motto “Showing the Way”, they are regarded as the Air Force’s lead unit in deployed airfield operations and communications. Members of the Squadron are commonly referred to as the “Gypsies” due to the constant travel around the world. Colonel Piercy becomes a Gypsy herself and will be “Showing the Way” representing the Squadron in Canadian society, and inspiring its members.
Media Contact: Dianne Spencer, Executive Director College Advancement & External Relations, Loyalist College, (613) 969-1913; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or Captain Ryan Lizotte, Technical Services Officer, 8 Wing Trenton, (613) 392-2811, ext. 2816; e-mail: email@example.com