12 Wing Change of Command

From left: Incoming Wing Commander Col James Hawthorne; 12 Wing Chief Warrant Officer Bruno Poirier; Presiding Officer BGen Sean Boyle, Deputy Commander 1 Canadian Air Division; and outgoing 12 Wing Commander, Col Sid Connor, sign the investiture certificates during the Change of Command ceremony on Thursday, July 18, 2019.

Col Hawthorne takes command at 12 Wing Shearwater

By Capt Lynne Patterson,
12 Wing PAO

Col Sid Connor, outgoing 12 Wing Commanding Officer, leaves the parade on a tractor.

Col James Hawthorne assumed the duties of 12 Wing Commander during a change of command parade at 12 Wing Shearwater on July 18, 2019.

BGen Sean Boyle, Deputy Commander 1 Canadian Air Division, was the reviewing officer for the parade.

Col Hawthorne, originally from Shelburne, Ontario, is a graduate of the Royal Military College of Canada in Kingston, Ont. He earned his pilot wings in December 1999 and was first employed as a Sea King pilot and various other roles at 12 Wing’s 443 Maritime Helicopter Squadron in Patricia Bay, BC. Over the last two decades he has worked in Shearwater, NS, including roles as the 12 Wing Operations Officer and, in 2013, temporary command of the wing. During that time he also worked in Ottawa as Special Advisor 2 to the Vice Chief of the Defence Staff and Military Assistant to the Minister and Associate Minister of National Defence.

“It is an honour to take command of 12 Wing for the second time in my career, this time with CH-148 Cyclones,” said Col Hawthorne. “I look forward to working with the highly capable members of the maritime helicopter community—as we accept more Cyclones on the east and west coast here at home and continue our support to the Royal Canadian Navy on deployments.

“We are all the first generation of Cyclone aircrew and maintainers. We are the new pioneering warriors of the maritime helicopter. It is a great time to be MH.”

In addition to welcoming Col Hawthorne, the parade was an opportunity for 12 Wing and local community members to say goodbye to Col Sid Connor, who has led the wing since 2017, during the transition from the CH-124 Sea King to the state-of-the-art modern CH-148 Cyclone.
“It sure has been exciting,” said BGen Boyle, addressing Col Connor directly. “A full fleet retirement and a new fleet introduction with a launch of three operational deployments and one command tour. It was rare and prestigious opportunity that you will undoubtedly remember and hopefully cherish for a lifetime.”

Before leaving the ceremony on a tractor—a nod to growing up on a farm in New Brunswick—Col Connor echoed BGen Boyle’s sentiments as he addressed members of 12 Wing for the last time.

“We are doing real world operation on three detachments in two different oceans because of the hard work you’ve done over these years,” he said. “I’ve been extremely proud to be your commander. As you stand out there on parade today, I want you to remember, to think back, to all the things we’ve accomplished over these last several years. So, to James, I have all the confidence in the world that you’ll take over my baby and take care of it. These people will never let you down.”