Canadian Detachment welcomes new commander

  • Published
  • By John Parker
  • Tinker Public Affairs
The 552nd Air Control Wing Canadian Detachment gained a new commander last week.

Lt. Col. Don "Boc" Saunders took the reins from Lt. Col. Pete "Dozer" Dozois at a Tinker Club ceremony July 10.

Canadian Armed Forces Brig. Gen. Alain Pelletier, deputy commander of the Continental United States NORAD (North American Air Defense) region, said Colonel Saunders brings "vast experience in the command and control domain" to his new command.

"He knows the mission, knows the aircraft, knows some of you and is eager to get to work," the general said at the ceremony. "To you and Shannon (the colonel's wife) and to the whole family, we wish you a happy return to the 552nd wing and all the best in your command."

The Canadian ceremony was similar to those of the U.S. Air Force except for a few remarks in French, some Canadian accents and a bagpiper leading in and exiting the official party. Instead of passing a guidon, the three commanders simultaneously signed change of command certificates at a table at center stage.

Colonel Saunders previously served at Tinker AFB with the 964th Airborne Air Control Squadron, logging over 1,200 hours on E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft.

He has served in the Canadian and Alaskan NORAD defense sectors, ending his Alaskan tour as the region's chief of Command and Control Standards and Evaluation.

Colonel Saunders has also held the posts of deputy commanding officer of 21 Aerospace Control and Warning Squadron and commander of 51 Aerospace Control and Warning Squadron in North Bay, Ontario.

Colonel Saunders told detachment members that "Tinker is the only place that you can come to get an opportunity to be the best at what you have trained to do in your career." A Tinker posting is the best job available for members in the AWACS field, he said.

"It's an exclusive club because we only send our best here," Colonel Saunders said. "Someone along the way has identified each and every one of you and said you're the best at what you do, and that's why you're here. So to get a chance to be a commander of this unit is truly an honor."

General Pelletier said Colonel Dozois focused on readiness and meaningful contributions by the 42-member detachment to the 552nd ACW mission during his nearly three-year command. The colonel also focused on the detachment's charge to represent Canada, he said.

"You've put the right level of emphasis on the readiness of those troops and for that I'm really appreciative," the general said. "But you've also done and taken the element of ambassadorship with great pride because, obviously, wearing this uniform we stand out, not only at the front gate, but also in town in what we do."

Colonel Dozois said he is proud of the detachment's achievements as 552nd warriors.

"You have met your wing commander's priorities of combat operational personal readiness at every turn," he said, "and you guys have totally reset the bar for what Wingman readiness is all about in the way that you take care of each other and the way you've built your command and community. Awesome."

The ceremony also included a significant promotion for Chief Warrant Officer Guy Tremblay. The most senior ranking noncommissioned member of the Canadian Forces was commissioned and immediately promoted to captain.