Kosovo campaign fighter pilot proud
of newly announced battle honours
Lieutenant-Colonel Alain Pelletier,
Canada's Air Force, 8/2/2008
The recent announcement by the Chief of the
Defence Staff that the battle honour "KOSOVO" has been awarded to 425
Tactical Fighter Squadron (TFS) of 3 Wing Bagotville and 441 Tactical
Fighter Squadron (TFS) of 4 Wing Cold Lake for their active participation
in the Kosovo conflict in 1999 awakened memories and pride in those of us
who took part in this air offensive.
In fact, despite the passage of time, the
former members of Task Force Aviano (TFA), also known as the "Balkan
Rats", are still proud that they had the chance to demonstrate the combat
capabilities of their fighter forces in the waning years of a century that
saw the addition of air weapons to the arsenal of leading-edge armed
Former members of TFA can be instantly
recognized by the decorations they wear proudly on their uniforms. Until
very recently, however, the air units that took part in this conflict wore
no marks of recognition. This explains why the granting of this battle
award for our participation in the Kosovo conflict is an historic occasion
that will help perpetuate the memory of the participants.
Battle honours are awarded to combat units,
in this case operational air squadrons, in recognition of their engagement
with enemy forces. They also serve to commemorate a campaign whose memory
should be a constant source of pride for the unit involved. And there is
pride, both now and for the future, for the members of the four units
involved: 416 Tactical Fighter Squadron, 425 Tactical Fighter Squadron,
433 Tactical Fighter Squadron and 441 Tactical Fighter Squadron.
Certainly, some people will ask why 416 TFS
and 433 TFS will not be receiving the same honours; the reason is simple:
these decorations are awarded to a unit when a majority of its members is
directly involved in the conflict. In this case, 425 TFS was the unit
deployed at the outbreak of hostilities on March 24,1999; 425 TFS was
subsequently replaced by 441 TFS as the main unit in the conflict in April
During the three months of the conflict, 416
TFS and 433 TFS provided active support to force generation in Kosovo, in
addition to deploying reinforcement personnel. These two units, however,
did not form the central core of the Aviano detachment, which makes them
ineligible for the battle honours. This in no way diminishes the
operational support provided by these two distinguished units, which also
contributed to the operation's success.
It is accordingly with a great deal of pride
that 425 TFS will receive its battle honour within the next few months.
When the new standard displaying the battle honour for Kosovo, as well as
the eight existing honours from the Second World War, is presented by the
Governor General or her representative, the dedication and combat
capability shown by the members of 425 TFS, 433 TFS and their CF-18
aircraft during this conflict will finally be preserved for posterity.