New wing commander of 15 Wing Moose Jaw introduced at ceremony

The winds of change blew in at the Canadian Forces Base outside of Moose Jaw on Friday afternoon.

People from the base and the public gathered near the Air Traffic Control Tower at the base to say farewell to former wing commander Colonel Denis O’Reilly, and to welcome his successor Colonel Ron Walker.

Col. Walker takes over command of 15 Wing Moose Jaw after Col. O’Reilly, a native of Moose Jaw, held the position for the last three years.

Friday’s event included a parade from students, instructors and other members of 15 Wing, a flyover from three aircrafts during the national anthem, and the official signing of papers to mark the change of command between Col. O’Reilly and Col. Walker.

Walker makes his return to Moose Jaw after he spent three years as a flying instructor from 1993 to 1996 at 15 Wing. He said it’s great to be back.

“I’m back with airplanes every day, it’s such a great experience to be back here in Saskatchewan,” he explained. “I had my old driver’s license number given back to me, and it was a moving experience to be walking in downtown Moose Jaw once again.”

Col. Walker was born and raised in Windsor, Nova Scotia. He spent a few years in Moose Jaw during the 1990s when he served as a flight instructor at 15 Wing Moose Jaw.

During his speech, Col. Walker mentioned how he’s looking forward to building off of the success Col. O’Reilly brought to 15 Wing during his time as wing commander, which included the re-introduction of the Saskatchewan Airshow earlier this summer after a 14-year hiatus.

One of the goals the new wing commander has set for himself is to bring up numbers when it comes to training pilots for the Canadian Forces.

“We’ve been charged through the Canadian Forces to increase pilot production because we are a bit short when it comes to pilots in particular,” said Walker. “We’re going to do some planning for the future to see what resources, personnel and aircrafts we need for training.”

Brigadier-General Mario Leblanc, the reviewing officer for the ceremony, came from Winnipeg to be a part of the festivities.

Serving as the boss of 15 Wing’s commander, Leblanc pointed out how he knows both Walker and O’Reilly very well since their younger days in the Canadian Forces.

He admitted while Friday’s ceremony was a sad occasion considering Col. O’Reilly’s move to a new adventure, he’s excited to see what Col. Walker can bring to the table.

“[Col. Walker] is coming here very energized,” said Leblanc. “They are very similar personalities because they both have a lot of ideas; he’ll have to put the one’s in play that he thinks he can achieve and he’ll have my full support.”

Around 300 to 350 pilots and instructors make up 15 Wing Moose Jaw.

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