GREENWOOD - Relatives eager to catch a long-awaited glimpse of their deployed loved ones gathered around a secured arrivals gate at 14 Wing Greenwood Dec. 16.
Toddlers and young children pressed their faces against the glass wall separating the general public from the CP-140 Aurora aircraft crew returning from the Middle East.
“Mommy, I see him,” a young girl shouts, picking her father out of the small circle of crew members undergoing security checks.
One returning father is sandwiched by two small children, a boy and a girl, each resting their heads on his shoulder after he goes down on one knee for a group hug. And another is astonished by how fast his baby girl’s curls grew in.
One by one families reunited, exchanging happy tears and long embraces.
Major-General Christian Drouin, Commander 1 Canadian Air Division/Canadian NORAD Region, flew to Greenwood to share remarks on the emotional occasion.
“As we move forward to the next chapter that is Operation IMPACT, please know that your contributions, as well of those of the entire CP-140 community, have made a significant difference in this complex mission,” he said.
The Royal Canadian Air Force’s CP-140 Aurora squadrons have been involved in maintaining a presence for Operation IMPACT, and supporting Air Task Force-Iraq, since Canada became a part of a coalition to counter Daesh in October 2014.
“During Operation IMPACT, two CP-140 aircraft deployed on short notice to provide an essential overland intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capability to the coalition using a number of upgraded, technologically advanced sensors,” a Department of National Defence press release issued Dec. 16 reads.
“The Aurora detachment flew 881 sorties and contributed directly to the defeat of Daesh by locating potential targets and helping the coalition to build an accurate picture of what was happening on the ground.”
Drouin commended the returning crew for their dedication to advancing the mission.
“So many of you voluntarily left the comforts of your daily lives and committed your time and energy and capacity to this important effort… delivering airpower as the eyes in the sky for our coalition partners,” he said.
“Take this time to recover with friends and family during the holiday season.”
Col. Mike Adamson, wing commander for CFB Greenwood, thanked the crew for their unwavering commitment.
“I know that most of you had extended your initial tour from the initial three months to four months, and I thank every one of you for your commitment to this mission,” he said, noting that at least four squadrons supported the mission in some capacity.
“I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank all of you, families included, for the sacrifices that you have made over the last little while in loaning us your loved one.”