Bishop Trophy awarded to Canadian Helicopter Force for achievements in Afghanistan
The Commander 1 Wing Kingston, Colonel Christopher Coates, accepted the Air Marshal W.A. Bishop VC Memorial Trophy on behalf of the Canadian Helicopter Force, Afghanistan (CHF-A ) during the Air Force Association of Canada’s Annual General Meeting at 8 Wing Trenton on Saturday, October 17.
“The trophy is a very noteworthy recognition of the monumental achievements of the men and women of the Canadian Helicopter Force-Afghanistan,” said Col Coates. “All members of 1 Wing are proud of their efforts to contribute to the Canadian Helicopter Force in Afghanistan, but more importantly, they are immensely proud of the achievements of our aviators in theatre.”
“As was highlighted during the presentation of the award, CHF-A's achievements were outstanding for the speed and success with which they responded to the direction to deploy and deliver support to our forces in Afghanistan under remarkably difficult combat conditions,” said Col. Coates.
The CH-146 Griffon helicopters were deployed with less than 30 days notice and were operational within days of arriving in theatre. The 147 D-Chinook helicopters, a "new" capability for our Air Force, were accepted in-theatre and were mounted in a combat environment - a feat not accomplished since possibly the Second World War.
The aviators, supported by maintenance, operational and administrative personnel, continue to provide valuable support in-theatre, having moved more than 16,000 personnel and more than 1,000,000 pounds of cargo by air, safe from the dangers of Improvised Explosive Devices and other enemy threats. They have provided close support to our troops and our allies engaged in the full range of operations that are bringing security and hope to the people of southern Afghanistan.
“The men and women of CHF-A have made an incredible difference in a short time under the most demanding of circumstances. They are highly deserving of the award and it was an honour to receive it on their behalf,” added Col Coates. “As the Commander of 1 Wing I am very pleased that the professionalism of the members of 1 Wing has contributed to this award, and I highlight that CHF-A is comprised of personnel from across the Canadian Forces, not just members of 1 Wing. They are all doing a fantastic job. I am also very pleased for the families of all members of CHF-A, as this award also shows the value of their sacrifice.”
The trophy will remain in the 1 Wing Kingston headquarters for a few weeks before being sent to 1 Wing’s six squadrons – 400 Tactical Helicopter Squadron at 16 Wing Borden, 403 (Hel) Operational Training Squadron at Canadian Forces Base Gagetown, 408 Tactical Helicopter Squadron at Canadian Forces Base Edmonton 427 Special Operations Aviation Squadron at Canadian Forces Base Petawawa, 430 ETAH at Canadian Forces Base Valcartier and 438 ETAH in St. Hubert, Que – for all to enjoy and share in the pride of such an honor.
This trophy, first presented in 1988, is awarded “in recognition of outstanding and meritorious achievement in any field of aviation.” The members of CHF-A have been granted this honour because they have exhibited the exceptional standards of performance and dedication that merit receipt of the Air Marshal W.A. Bishop, VC Trophy.
Owen Sound native, William “Billy” Avery Bishop, fighter pilot, was the top scoring Canadian and Imperial ace of the First World War, credited with 72 victories. He was the first Canadian airman to win a Victoria Cross, awarded to him for a single-handed attack on a German airfield on June 2, 1917. His last victory came on June 19, 1918 when he claimed five enemy aircraft. Lieutenant-Colonel (ret’d) Bishop died at the age of the age of 62 in Palm Beach, Fla.
By Captain Rae Joseph - Canadian Armed Forces
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