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Change of command for Canada’s Tactical Helicopter Wing

Colonel Chris McKenna, Major-General Eric Kenny and Colonel Travis Morehen sign the change of command certificates as part of the 1 Wing Change of Command ceremony held in Kingston, Ontario on July 29, 2020. Photo credit: Steven McQuaid, Canadian Forces Base Kingston Imagery

In a live-streamed ceremony which took place Wednesday, Jul. 29, 2020, Colonel Chris McKenna took over command of 1 Wing from outgoing Commander Colonel Travis Morehen in Kingston, Ontario.

The ceremony was presided by Major-General Eric Kenny, Commander 1 Canadian Air Division/Canadian NORAD Region, and the live stream on the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) social media allowed Wing members and partners to witness this milestone moment while respecting social distancing measures.

“It has been wonderful to return to my roots and to the Tactical Aviation Enterprise for the last two years,” said Colonel Travis A. Morehen, CD, Outgoing 1 Wing Commander. “The Sailors, Soldiers, and Aviators of 1 Wing are some of the finest the CAF has to offer and I am proud to have served as your Commander, most recently as we navigated unprecedented times and still delivered airpower effects with the unwavering expertise that we are known for. I have no doubt that Colonel McKenna will inspire you to keep striving for unparalleled professionalism and performance.”

According to the Canadian Forces press release, Colonel Morehen had many achievements during his tenure. One such achievement saw Colonel Morehen deployed to Mali as Task Force Commander for Operation PRESENCE-Mali, where he commanded the air task force providing aeromedical evacuation coverage for civilians and UN peacekeepers from January to September 2019. Colonel Morehen will be moving on to the 1st Canadian Division Headquarters in Kingston, as the Chief of Staff Operations. Colonel Morehen had commanded 1 Wing since 2018.

Colonel Chris McKenna comes from the RCAF Headquarters, where he served from 2017 to 2020 as Director of Air Plans. He served as the Commander of Canada’s air task force in Mali, under Operation PRESENCE from July 2018 to January 2019, as well as on several operational deployments to Bosnia and Afghanistan through his career. He also commanded 450 Tactical Helicopter Squadron, operationalizing the RCAF’s new fleet of CH-147F helicopters, from 2014 to 2016.

“I would like to thank Colonel Morehen for his decisive and operationally focused leadership of 1 Wing over the past two years. He has brilliantly led this Wing through a period of significantly high operational tempo, not seen in a generation. I will strive to keep this positive momentum going as I take command of 1 Wing. Tactical Aviation has been my family for my entire career, and I couldn’t be more honoured to lead the Tactical Aviation warriors that are the very heart of this great RCAF Wing,” said Colonel Chris A. McKenna, OMM, MSC, MSM, CD, Incoming 1 Wing Commander.

Major-General Eric J. Kenny, MSC, MSM, CD, 1 Canadian Air Division / Canadian NORAD Region Commander, also offered some sentiments during the ceremony.

“It was a great honour to be able to preside over the 1 Wing change of command ceremony today between Colonel Travis Morehen and Colonel Chris McKenna. This is not the first time command has changed hands between them, as both of them very capably commanded the Joint Task Force deployed for Operation PRESENCE in Mali from 2018 to 2019. Colonel Morehen’s command of 1 Wing spanned a time of very high ops tempo and transition for the Tactical Aviation community, and I know that the Wing will continue to reap the benefits of his leadership for years to come,” he said. “I want to thank him for his outstanding work as Wing Commander, and wish him all the best as he moves on to his next challenge. The men and women of 1 Wing have always risen to the challenges before them — that dedication is an example to all of us, and it starts at the top. As the new Wing Commander, Colonel McKenna has inherited this legacy of excellence, and with his track record as a proven and dedicated leader, I know 1 Wing is in good hands.”

Equipped with a mixed fleet of CH-146 Griffon and CH-147F Chinook helicopters, 1 Wing is the home of Canada’s Tactical Aviation capability and provides airpower effects for the Canadian Army, the Canadian Special Operations Forces Command, and the Royal Canadian Air Force. 1 Wing consists of a formation Headquarters based in Kingston, Ontario and seven tactical helicopter squadrons distributed across Canada. Recent 1 Wing deployments include Operation IMPACT, Operation PRESENCE-Mali and NATO Mission Iraq.

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