The first female Master Door Gunner in the Canadian Armed Forces

October 29, 2020 - Royal Canadian Air Force

Caption

Sergeant Brigitte O’Driscoll became the Canadian Armed Forces’ first female Master Door Gunner during the Basic Tactical Aviation Course conducted by 438 Tactical Helicopter Squadron at Canadian Forces Base Valcartier in September 2020.

Photo: Corporal Laura Landry

 

By Lieutenant Frédérique Rousseau

On September 20, 2020, in Valcartier, Québec, Sergeant Brigitte O’Driscoll became the first woman in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) to be certified as a Master Door Gunner.

Door gunners are CAF members, usually drawn from the combat arms and flight engineer trades, who are trained to use the C6 general purpose machine gun, and other weapons such as the GAU-21 and M134 mounted on the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF)’s CH-146 Griffon and CH-147F Chinook helicopters. Master Door Gunners receive advance training and are responsible for training other door gunners assigned to their squadron and to assess their performance annually. The one-week course affords prospective Master Door Gunners various mentoring and assessment techniques required to facilitate the force generation of CH-146 Griffon and CH-147F Chinook door gunners. As a Master Door Gunner, Sergeant O’Driscoll will now be able to share her knowledge of attack operations, employment of aircraft weapons, aircrew duties, and more.

“This course has allowed me to become an even better door gunner and to hone my knowledge and skills. I can now train and assess the future door gunners arriving at 438 Tactical Helicopter Squadron (THS) and help build the RCAF’s door gunner capability,” said Sergeant O’Driscoll.

Caption

Sergeant Brigitte O’Driscoll was the second woman in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) to receive her door gunner wings in 2019, and became the first woman in the CAF to be certified Master Door Gunner in September 2020.

Photo: Corporal Laura Landry

 

Sergeant O’Driscoll has already achieved much in her career, as only last year she received her door gunner wings, becoming only the second woman in Canada to achieve this (the first being Corporal Alexandra Roy from 430 THS in Valcartier). In one year, she accumulated flying hours rapidly, flying two to three days a week at the squadron. She also continued to perfect her theoretical and practical knowledge of aerial combat techniques, while improving her weapon handling skills on an aerial platform as a door gunner.

Sergeant O’Driscoll is already looking ahead to the next challenge. She would like to continue to learn more and looks forward to embracing a mentoring role with new door gunners at the squadron. She also knows the meaning of service—in addition to her time at 438 THS, Sergeant O’Driscoll is a firefighter with the Hudson Fire Department as well as a section commander with her infantry reserve unit, The Royal Montreal Regiment.

Lieutenant Frédérique Rousseau is the 438 Tactical Helicopter Squadron unit public affairs representative.

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