North Bay names its new commander of 22 Wing/CFB North Bay

There’s a new commanding officer for 22 Wing/Canadian Forces Base and the Canadian Air Defence sector in North Bay.

Outgoing wing commander Col. Mark Lachapelle officially relinquished power to his successor in a Friday morning ceremony with a stroke of a pen.

"I’m definitely going to miss it here. Especially all the great people," Lachapelle said.

“This is an amazing community. It’s a family and I’m so happy to have been part of it.”

Lachapelle assumed command in July, 2019 becoming the longest-serving commander at the base.

During his tenure, Lachapelle said he was helped by his team, family, and the community in dealing with the pandemic in the last two years.

"We went through something that has never really been done before and to just have that sense of pride and community that supports the mission is phenomenal," he said.

Lachapelle will travel to Alabama where he’s enrolled in Air War College with his counterparts in the United States Air Force (USAF).

“We will learn about the strategic level of government and the military and understand how those pieces all work together.” Essentially how the government and military work with other agencies when it comes to national security.”

North Bay native Col. Richard Jolette assumes duties with experience as a weapons commander after completing training in 2003. He also served at CFB Bagotville, Quebec.

“It brings me back to my childhood and beginnings in the Canadian armed forces.”

“I love sitting on the scope with young aviators. I see myself in them. The tools that they have now just blows my mind," said Jolette

In 2018, Jolette took over command of the 21 Aerospace Control and Warning Squadron, overseeing   North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) operations before being promoted to colonel last year.

The base is looking to modernize operations with a good share of the recently announced $8 billion in federal funding to go towards upgrading technology and equipment within NORAD.

"From what we've heard from the federal minister, it could be significant financially with new capacities and possibilities that are able to come online," said Jolette.