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Island air force base welcomes first female commander in its 80-year existence

Lt.-Col. Rhonda Stevens is the first female wing commander since 19 Wing Comox’s establishment
Lt-Col. Rhonda Stevens (left) assumes command of 19 Wing Comox from Col. Bryn Elliott (right), Maj.-Gen E.J. Kenny, commander 1 Cdn Air Div/CANR is the presiding officer (centre). Back row, CWO D.A. Campbell, 1 Cdn Air Div/CANR CWO (left) and CWO Don Farr 19 Wing CWO (right). Photo by 19 Wing Comox

19 Wing Comox has a new wing commander.

Lt.-Col. Rhonda Stevens assumed command of 19 Wing Comox from Col. Bryn Elliott on Dec. 10, with the ceremony presided over by Maj.-Gen. Eric Kenny, commander of 1 Canadian Air Division/Canadian NORAD Region.

She is the first female wing commander since 19 Wing Comox’s establishment in 1941.

Lt.-Col. Stevens enrolled in the Canadian Armed Forces in 1993, and attended both College militaire Royale de Saint-Jean and Royal Military College of Canada in Kingston, Ont. where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 1998. She earned air navigator wings from the Canadian Forces Air Navigation School (CFANS) in 1999.

The new 19 Wing commander has extensive experience at 19 Wing Comox. In 1999, her first operational assignment was with 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron. She returned to the squadron in 2010 as the operations officer and navigator on the CC-115 Buffalo aircraft, and again in 2019 as the commanding officer.

Lt.-Col. Stevens has experience as an instructor at Canadian Forces Air Navigation School (CFANS) in Winnipeg, and as an executive assistant to the wing commanders in Winnipeg and Greenwood, NS. In 2014, she was appointed officer in charge of the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Halifax, a centre that prosecutes more than 2,500 search and rescue cases annually.

In July 2018, Lt.-Col. Stevens was posted to Ottawa as the Canadian Joint Operations Command Search and Rescue (SAR) Advisor.

In her latest assignment, she was appointed as the chairperson of the Fixed Wing SAR (FWSAR) Secretariat responsible for facilitating the advancement of the new CC-295 Kingfisher aircraft project.

Lt-Col. Stevens is married to Maj. Kevin Stevens. They have two daughters, Sienna and Sara.

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Erin Haluschak

About the Author: Erin Haluschak

Erin Haluschak is a journalist with the Comox Valley Record since 2008. She is also the editor of Trio Magazine...
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