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The Squadron is a Family

Heroes Remember

The Squadron is a Family

Well, the squadron's a family. The average squadron is about 200 people, 20 or so pilots, about 180 to 200 technicians, logisticians, clerks, you know, those, those kind of folks, so it's, it's a very much a family of 200 to 220 people and there's, you know, people of all backgrounds, men, women. On the squadron that I was commander of, 416 Squadron in Cold Lake, on CF-18s, we had, I think 224 people, 20 pilots. We had about 35 women on the squadron, technicians or loggies or, you know just everybody was integrated doing, doing one job. Beyond that of course, we had probably 500, including wives and kids and, and so on, so it was a, it was an extended family. And you had to, as commanding officer, as guys in the squadron, or people in the squadron, everybody looked after everybody else. As a commanding officer, you were the, besides being the commander, you were the, the father, the big brother, the, you know the guy that was going to look after things if somebody got in trouble or, or something bad happened. You know whenever we deployed as 416 Squadron, we deployed to Germany regularly, once or twice a year. Our job was rapid reinforcement of NATO against, against the potential for Soviet aggression. And there was always a little bit, I mean we never deployed, it was always peacetime deployments preparing for war, so it was not like we deployed into a combat scenario, but we were going to be gone for four, or five, six weeks and so, you know the families, that caused some family stress and, so we would always have a big barbeque, whatever, and meeting with all the families and kids, and just get everybody out, and I would just explain you know, what we were going to do and, and why, and all that kind of stuff, I mean, nobody likes, families don't like being separated, but they understood. I mean when you sign on the line as a military member, you know you're going to do that sort of thing. When you marry into it, you may or may not know what you're getting into. So, a lot of it is just, just looking after mundane day to day family needs. When the squadron is deployed, normally there's some of the squadron left behind, folks are left behind to look after the families. If somebody's, you know driveway needs shovelling or some bodys's kid gets sick and needs go to the doctor and, you know, whatever, you just, you you just look after things as you would within your, within your own family. It's, it's probably tougher on the people left behind looking after things than it is on the, on the people in theatre. I mean, in theatre, they're there, they know what they're doing, they're equipped, they're trained, they got a job to do. They're so busy doing what they're doing, that they're probably not dwelling on, you know the ultimate bad things that can happen as much as the people back home are dwelling on it, ‘cause they're so wrapped up in their mission and so focussed on it, and that's the way they have to be. So it's a, it's a long way of saying that a squadron, like a, like an army unit, like a a ship, is a family.

Mr. Hawn explains how the entire squadron, including the civilian families of those enlisted, is a family. He describes his role in the family while commanding officer of 416 Squadron, and explains how civilian families are taken care of while their loved ones are sent away on a mission.

Laurie Hawn

Mr. Hawn was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, in 1947. After finishing High School, Mr. Hawn opted to join the Air Force in order to further his education, with an ultimate goal of becoming a pilot. At the age of 18, Mr. Hawn flew for the first time, and by the age of 19 he became a flight instructor. First with T-Birds (T33's), then with Starfighters (CF104's). After instructing for 5 years in Cold Lake, Alberta, in April 1972, Mr. Hawn accepted a 3 ½ year posting with NATO in West Germany. After finishing his tour in West Germany, Mr. Hawn returned to flight instructing in Cold Lake, but was regularly posted to West Germany for a few weeks at a time. In 1988, Mr. Hawn was made Commanding Officer of 416 squadron. He held the position for 2 years, relinquishing it only weeks before the start of the first Gulf War, having only just stepped down, Mr. Hawn severely disappointed when he was not chosen to accompany the squadron when posted to Iraq. After a 30 year career, Mr. Hawn retired from the service. He now resides in Edmonton, Alberta, with his wife and family.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Laurie Hawn
War, Conflict or Mission:
Canadian Armed Forces
Peacekeeping/Peacemaking in West Germany
Air Force

Copyright / Permission to Reproduce

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