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Former mayor John Williams soars into role of honorary colonel

By Joseph Quigley [5]

BELLEVILLE – A torch was passed with storytelling, humour and respect as John Williams took over the post of honorary colonel with 8 Wing/CFB Trenton [6] on Wednesday.

A ceremony at the National Air Force Museum in Trenton was held to complete the appointment.

Williams, having ended his eight-year stint as Quinte West mayor on Monday, said he was happy to continue a relationship with the base in uniform.

“It’s a great honour and privilege to be doing this. To put the uniform on, and just have a great relationship with the wing that I’ve had for the last eight years. So to continue that on is a real honour. I look forward to it,” said Williams.

He said he thought that now, as he leaves the office of mayor, was the best time to take on the role.

“Well, I just, I figured if I was going to do it, now was the time. You get away from it, sometimes you don’t come back. I just thought it was a good time.”

The position was previously held by Armin Quickert, the retired president of Reid’s Dairy [7]. Williams officially took over from Quickert as they both signed papers during the ceremony to complete the transition.

Quickert had held the position of honorary colonel since 2011. He spoke about his time in the role in a lengthy speech that also featured stories about his adventures as honorary colonel, and the reasons he took on the job.

“It was the fact that I was really a people person,” said Quickert. “Someone that could engage with all the ranks, from the top officer to the new recruit.”

The honorary colonel [8] acts as a community liaison and mentor to the squadron. He or she is considered an officer on almost all issues except in military operations.

CFB Trenton also has an honorary colonel for its Air Communication and Control Squadron. Loyalist College president Maureen Piercy filled that role between 2009 and April of this year. The current honorary colonel of that squadron is Bernie Ouellet.

Col. David Lowthian, the commander of 8 Wing/Canadian Forces Base Trenton, said the position of honorary colonel is a vital one.

“Advisor, mentor, confidant, supporter, community liaison and friend. The honorary colonel is a trusted agent to many (Royal Canadian Air Force) command teams,” said Lowthian during his speech. “And you have a unique perspective, and invaluable insight, regardless of your background, military or not. You have links within the community and access to resources that are capable of supporting our military families and opening doors in ways that we may not know how to. And when you have completed your tour of duty as honorary colonel, you stay involved and maintain these priceless connections. Once an honorary colonel, always an honorary colonel.”

Lowthian spoke about the work that Quickert and Williams had done for the base, and said that Williams would be a valued member of 8 Wing.

“Your support to our military personnel and commitment to making the Quinte West region their beloved home base was not just a function of you being mayor for eight years. It is an example of your loyalty, your core values that are set upon prosperity, security, progress and family,” he said. “I know that the personnel of 8 Wing benefit from your advice, mentorship, leadership and support. And I know that you’ll tell our story amongst the community. Welcome aboard.”

Williams said that he’ll bring humour to the role as he builds the relationships between 8 Wing/CFB Trenton and the rest of Quinte West.

“I’ll bring some levity. We’ll have some fun,” he said. “But I’ll try and help the relationship within the community and make sure that 8 Wing is being recognized for all they’re doing.”