Recently retired Red Deer College president Ron Woodward has been recruited to employ his community-building skills with the Red Deer’s 749 Communication Squadron.
Woodward ditched his suit for a uniform on Wednesday as he was introduced as the reserve squadron’s honourary lieutenant-colonel at the Cormack Armoury.
The transition from his college role to his military position is not expected to be a big leap for Woodward, who looks forward to working with the young reservists and acting as a mentor and a liaison between the squadron and the community.
“This for me is a great honour,” said Woodward, who left the college last month after 11 years at the helm.
“Personally, it allows me to stay involved with the community in a public profile, which is something I enjoyed in my life at the college,” he added later.
“It does fit quite nicely into my own value system and my family traditions.”
Woodward’s father, two grandfathers and several uncles served in the military — in the navy, army and air force. Woodward himself has experience as a junior officer in the naval reserve in Saskatoon in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
As the public face of the squadron, Woodward looks forward to trumpeting the achievements of Canada’s military and its many successes.
“We hear little snippets of places they are and things that they’re doing, but I think that we don’t appreciate the breadth of involvement they have.
“I think the other thing that is a really important story to tell is about the training that’s provided to people in the military, both in the regular forces and the reserves. One of the things I have learned is Canadian troops are the best trained in the world,” he said, adding that assessment came from a U.S. officer he spoke with at a function last month in Edmonton for honourary colonels.
“That’s the kind of story that I hope I can share with people.”
Squadron commanding officer Capt. Sam Fasullo said Woodward’s deep connections in the community made him a good candidate for the position. Besides offering a public face for the squadron, Woodward will act as an advocate, mentor and advisor for the young men and women in the 42-strong squadron. He will also be a fixture at ceremonial events.
Woodward has been appointed for three years and joins about 150 other honourary officers across Canada. Decorated Korean War veteran Honourary Lt.-Col. Smiley Douglas, of Innisfail, held the position for the last three years.