Comox Reservist Contributes to Squadron’s Largest Evacuation in Decades

Magazine Article / December 13, 2021

On Monday, 15 November 2021, when 442 (Transport and Rescue) Squadron from Comox, British Columbia, deployed a CH-149 Cormorant helicopter on a domestic operations mission it had an unusual crew member on board. The Op LENTUS mission was launched to airlift more than 300 stranded motorists on a washed out portion of Highway 7 in the small community of Agassiz, BC.

Aviator Elsa Gilroy, an Air Operations Support Technician (AOS Tech) with 442 Sqn, was brought along to assist on the ground by directing the motorists towards the helicopter and helping them to board it safely for their evacuation.

This occupation is still fairly new to the RCAF. AOS Techs can be found at Wings across the country, but those who work at units carrying out Search and Rescue (SAR) operations are especially instrumental in lessening the load on undermanned specialist SAR Techs. They support them by handling the serviceability of a variety of SAR and medical equipment, setting up and tearing down drop zones, transporting equipment and personnel by vehicle or boat, and assisting with diving exercises, among other duties. Members like Avr Gilroy free up the less technical tasks from highly trained SAR Techs to allow them to get on with their core business of saving lives and training for their multiple proficiencies - the same proficiencies that enabled an evac mission like the one performed on November 15 to be successful.

Lieutenant-Colonel Jean Leroux, Commanding Officer of 442 Sqn has said that his unit’s response to the situation was the “largest mass evacuation the squadron has executed in decades.”

Learn more about Avr Gilroy’s extraordinary tasking.

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