Pioneer Squadron Commander Remembers…

Some things change, but the important things stay the same. 21736 Captain Adam Bruce, the first Sqn Comd of 13 Sqn when it stood up five years ago, took this photo from his office in Fort Lasalle. 13 Sqn will be officially stood down this Tuesday, 15 May – 0730.

21736 Adam Bruce, Former 13 Sqn Commander: “It was the best job I ever had…”

It was with great sadness for the end of an era that I read of the impending shutdown of 13 Squadron in e-Veritas 18. It was buried in the large article titled “Commandant’s Town Hall: ‘The Only Constant is Change…’” so many of you may have missed it. Indeed, many of you may never have known that there were 13 squadrons. As the first ever 13 Squadron Commander, I spent many a reunion with former classmates and RMCC alumni explaining that there were 13 squadrons and how they came about. I am proud to share this with you one more time.

Many of my former cadets in 13 Squadron will share a laugh at finding this information in an article on change. As I told them often, ‘progress is good; change is a waste of time’. 13 Squadron was born out of progress. The CF was still transforming and qualified NCMs were needed elsewhere than at RMCC. It was decided that, to account for the decreased administration and leadership capacity of the squadrons with the loss of a Squadron NCM, they would be downsized and three new squadrons created, leaving each squadron with about 75 officer cadets. D Division was created for these three new squadrons: 11, 12 and 13.

The first weeks of 13 Squadron were a lesson in adaptability. We started with no resources, no name, no colour, and certainly no traditions. The FYOP staff were not even into their jobs and the only cadets who were around were those finishing second language training. The most senior 13 Squadron cadet on campus was 24372 (III) Do Hyun Shin who became the first acting CSL of 13 Squadron, and we made it work. 24052 Sarah Rogers arrived soon after as the first FYOP CFL and remained in charge until 23981 Cameron Arsenault finally returned and took over as the first 13 Squadron CSL. As for history and traditions, 24348 Matt McInnes adopted the role very early on as Squadron Historian in charge of developing and implementing our brand new histories and traditions.

In relatively short order, we were given a squadron name and colour by the military staff – Joliet/Joliette was the name and tan was the colour. Out of that, flight names were chosen, as was a mascot – the lion, because of their colour – and an informal, and never officially established, affiliation with Special Operations was borne (out of the tan beret). Mr. McInnes conducted some very diligent research into the name, determining there were at least two prominent Joliets/Joliettes in Canadian History: the former a famous explorer and the latter a prominent businessman after whom the town of Joliette in Quebec was named. Understanding that the name was that of a former RMC Saint-Jean squadron, I sought out 20627 Hugo Laplante, then C Division Commander and a RMC Saint-Jean alum, to find out after which one we were named. This took a few days, but in the meantime it was decided by the cadets that we were the businessman, Joliette, a descendant of the explorer, and flight names were chosen based on that. They were the last names of three Victoria Cross winners who served in the same militia regiment, appropriately the 13th Royal Canadian Highlanders, as did Barthélemy Joliette. I didn’t have the heart to tell them that the squadron was actually named for the explorer and the names were so well chosen and so significant that they stayed, even if Good Flight for first years sounded awfully presumptuous (see the Wikipedia article on Herman Good: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herman_James_Good).

This is not the first time in history that RMCC has downsized its number of squadrons. As a cadet myself in 1998 I witnessed the reduction of the Wing by one squadron when 11 Squadron, Tecumseh, was closed down following the reduction in the Wing a few years after the closing of RMC Saint-Jean and Royal Roads. Another top notch group, whose recruit CFL would go on to be the CWC (20979 Mason Stalker), they were shut down in their prime and redistributed amongst the remaining squadrons. This was a time of considerable turmoil in the Wing and it was only after that year that things settled down for a while. That is, until the decision was made to reorganize the cadets after second year so that they would serve in at least two squadrons in their four years. I understand that this had a detrimental impact on squadron history and traditions and was not ended until a new Commandant, now-LGen 12192 Tom Lawson took over and 13 Squadron was born in 2007. It was into this environment that I became Squadron Commander. At that time, many of my cadets were entering their third and even fourth squadron at RMCC with no sense of belonging. Maybe not so much for the fourth years, but I truly believe that the rest of them found a home in 13 Squadron and left the college proud to answer the inevitable alumni question following ‘What’s your college number?’ – ‘What squadron were you in?’ – proudly as 13 Squadron.

I am given to understand that 13 Squadron has done very well since my departure. This is not surprising. When the squadron was formed, the giving squadron commanders who allocated cadets to its ranks were given one important direction: do NOT send them any of your problems. The result was that they didn’t send us any problems, or any of their top cadets either. Despite the latter fact, we had a top 4 in the second semester of 2007-2008 and again in the Fall of 2008, 24039 Melissa Marshall and 24324 Jean-François Horth, respectively. In addition, 13 Squadron led the Wing with the most cadets in Wing HQ in the Fall of 2008, while at the same time maintaining a strong squadron bar slate. These leaders trained the leaders that trained the 13 Squadron cadets of today. The chain from my first years to the present day cadets will be broken with the end of 13 Squadron, but the cadets of today, who learned from these tremendous mentors, will reap a lifetime of benefits.

With so many fond memories of the times and the people of 13 Squadron, it is hard for me to believe it is coming to an end. Going to law school was a dream come true but it was bittersweet at leaving the best job I have ever had and the great people who made it that way. Although my son and daughter can no longer wear the lion costume I bought to support the first years at the obstacle course, our hearts will always be with “daddy’s peoples” from 13 Squadron.

One Comment

  • 4588 KOMPF RL

    May 22, 2012 at 2:20 pm

    An old story !!

    “We trained very hard……..but it seemed that every time we were beginning to form up into teams we would be reorganized.

    I was to learn late in life that we tend to meet any new situation by reorganizing; and a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress while producing confusion, inefficiency and demoralization.”

    Petronius Arbiter, 210 BCE