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Canadian component dinner marks 86 years of service

Brig. Gen. Rick R. Pitre , commander of the 2nd Canadian Air Division, speaks  at the Royal Canadian Air Force’s 86th birthday celebration at the Tinker Club. (Air Force photo by Margo Wright)

Brig. Gen. Rick R. Pitre , commander of the 2nd Canadian Air Division, speaks at the Royal Canadian Air Force’s 86th birthday celebration at the Tinker Club. (Air Force photo by Margo Wright)

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- On March 30, The 552nd Air Control Wing's Canadian component celebrated the Royal Canadian Air Force's 86th birthday during a mixed mess dinner at the Tinker Club.
The event, infused with several Canadian military traditions, included a live piper, Scottish music, service marches, and customary loyal toasts.

After a rendition of "God Save the Queen" and "Hail to the Chief" toasts were proposed to the queen of England and the President of the United States. Customary toasts were proposed to the bag piper, bandmaster, and the chef. There were also eight service marches announced by the host, each followed by brief musical compositions.

Individual marches were dedicated to the Artillery Branch, Canadian Signals Branch, Royal Canadian Regiment, Canadian Air Force, logistics branch, United States Air Force, and civilian employees. "Ode to Joy" was dedicated to the chaplains.

"What is true about our mess dinners is that they represent the best part of our history and heritage much like the USAF Dining-In" said Brig. Gen. Rick R. Pitre , commander of the 2nd Canadian Air Division.

General Pitre, guest speaker for the event, addressed the audience. Gen Pitre joined the Canadian Forces in 1980 and arrived in Oklahoma in 1988. Speaking about his early experiences in Oklahoma, he remembered the sweltering heat, tornadoes and hail storms.

He also remembered generosity and hospitality of Oklahomans during his transition from Canada.

"The more things change the more things stay the same," the General said. "You always hope there's a bit of that particularly in the busy world we live in."

Using a quote from Albert Einstein "Imagination is more important than knowledge," General Pitre said, "Knowledge is fundamental to improving our livelihood but it's the imagination and innovation that defines us Canadians and Americans."

Eighty six years as an air force and 22-years in partnership with America, the General's words couldn't be truer "the more things change, the more they stay the same."