Department of National Defence

Department of National Defence

November 30, 2011 16:00 ET

Task Force Canuck Welcomed Home from Afghanistan

8 WING TRENTON, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Nov. 30, 2011) - General Walt Natynczyk, Chief of the Defence Staff, Major-General Alain Parent, Commander of 1 Canadian Air Division, and Brigadier-General Michael Hood, Deputy Director General International Security Policy today welcomed home to Canadian Forces Base Trenton Task Force Canuck after successful operations in Afghanistan.

"I'm proud of the work that Task Force Canuck has completed over ten years of engagement in Afghanistan and I thank all of the men and women in uniform for representing the Canadian Forces, and Canadians, so professionally throughout your commitment to this UN-mandated, NATO-led mission to Afghanistan," said the Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence. "The men and women of Task Force Canuck were instrumental in safely moving our personnel across a dangerous theatre of operations, ultimately contributing to the security umbrella that allows development to take place."

The Tactical Airlift Unit known as Task Force (TF) Canuck traces its ten year engagement in Afghanistan to Operation Apollo in 2001, through Op Athena in 2003 and lastly through the Joint Task Force-Afghanistan Air Wing in 2008 making this unit's contribution to the mission in Afghanistan a milestone in Canadian Air Mobility Operations. TF Canuck operated the CC-130 Hercules aircraft to transport Canadian Forces personnel and equipment in and out of Kandahar Airfield, and flew throughout Afghanistan in support of International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) missions.

"Our Hercules aircraft crews, maintainers, supply technicians, drivers and many others, flew or supported more than 3,400 successful logistic and operational missions skillfully and safely during their time in Afghanistan," said Gen Natynczyk. "These men and women were the ones who ensured each of our fallen comrades were brought home with great dignity and the most heartfelt respect. They've brought great honour to the whole of the Royal Canadian Air Force and I am extremely proud of the monumental task they've achieved."

On July, 7 2011, the Canadian combat mission in Afghanistan ended with the handover of the Task Force Kandahar area of responsibility to a U.S. Army task force, and Operation Athena entered its last phase to close down Canada's longest-running combat mission. During this period, the Air Wing continued to conduct flying operations for ISAF Regional Command (South) while gradually drawing down its personnel and equipment, with the return to Canada expected to be complete in December 2011.

"The return home of the last remaining CC-130 Hercules aircraft after ten years of continuous service in support of coalition forces in Afghanistan is an outstanding milestone," said MGen Parent. "I commend those who served with Task Force Canuck and indeed the entire Air Wing - your commitment and professionalism assured the success of the longest continuous tactical airlift operation in RCAF history."

Following the delivery of the first of the CC-130J Super Hercules tactical aircraft to Canada in June 2010 six months ahead of schedule, the J model replaced the H model in Afghanistan in January 2011. On the last flight out of Kandahar, the CC-130J Hercules flew through India and Southeast Asia on its way back home to Canada. During the journey, the flight recognized RCAF historical ties with India, honoured members of 435 and 436 Squadron interred there, and fostered ties between the Royal Canadian Air Force and the air forces of Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, and the Philippines. 436 Squadron also had the honour of undertaking the first ever RCAF CC-130J flight around the world, notwithstanding the fact it started five months ago when the aircraft left for Kandahar.

"Your legacy journey recognizing your historic roots as a Squadron, while crewing the RCAF's newest aircraft, the Super Hercules, is a poignant reminder of what it means to again be the Royal Canadian Air Force," said BGen Hood, who was at the event on behalf of the Commander of the Royal Canadian Air Force. "As we become more agile with the reach and power required for Canadian Forces operations, we do not, and will not, forget the legacy of those brave men and women who have served with great distinction before us."

TF Canuck, formally ceased operations on 16 November 2011 with a sunset ceremony held on the tarmac of Kandahar Airfield.

Note to Editors/News Directors: For more information and imagery on operations in Afghanistan, visit the website of the Canadian Forces Expeditionary Force Command at: http://www.comfec-cefcom.forces.gc.ca/pa-ap/ops/index-eng.asp

For more information about the CC-130J Hercules aircraft visit the website of the Royal Canadian Air Force at: http://www.airforce.forces.gc.ca/v2/equip/cc130j/index-eng.asp

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