June 28: Sarnia, ON - Sharing a Mission

There are many Canadian icons that make us unique and we tend to be proud of all of them.  The Canadian Snowbirds Demonstration Team (431 Squadron) is one such icon. 

Easily identified by their crisp red flight suits and distinctive Canadair CT-114 Tutor jets, the pilots of this prestigious military unit are known worldwide for their precision aerobatic flying.  They entertain, they inspire, they motivate and they give Canadians another reason to be proud.  They are great ambassadors for our country and for our Canadian Forces.

Our mission is similar to theirs in many ways.   Oh sure, we don’t have the snazzy jets or cool flight suits – well Paul has a new pair of blue coveralls – but there are similarities.

We share a goal to bring Canadians together to celebrate our Canadian Forces.  We share the desire to make Canadians proud of our military.

Thanks to the great folks at the Sarnia Airshow, we were invited to a special dinner at which the Snowbirds were guests of honour along with Army Cadets, Sea Cadets and Air Cadets from Sarnia. 

Following the dinner, Major Chris Hope, Team Lead (Snowbird 1) led the Snowbirds outside to view the mural.  He didn’t just lead the “red suits” as they call them; he also led the “blue suits”, the men and women who maintain the aircraft and support the tour.  After all, when you run a tour like the Snowbirds have, or like Portraits of Honour, you need lots of people behind the scenes.  They don’t always get the recognition they deserve but hopefully they realize that they are the backbone.

Like most Canadians, the Snowbirds – red and blue suits – took time to reflect on the faces of our fallen heroes and to recognize how fortunate they were to be safe.  After all, these men are trained Canadian Forces fighter pilots who could be called upon to deploy at any time.

While the mural and tour are to honour all of our troops, several Snowbird pilots could be seen reaching into their red flight suit to remove money from their personal wallets so they could place it in the donation bin that is kept at the top of the stairs. 

Like the thousands of Canadians who have already seen the mural, these brave pilots want to support their military brothers and sisters.  They understand the challenges that face so many.

To see them make a donation spoke volumes of their character and the character of the men and women who serve our country.

Tomorrow they will fly in formation performing with precision, skill and grace.  They will entertain the crowds below and they will make Canada proud of our Canadian Forces and proud to be Canadians.

Below them, the Portraits of Honour crew will welcome visitors to the mural where we will remember, honour and celebrate our Canadian Forces.

Two different missions.  One common goal.