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Members of 412 Transport Squadron welcomed their new commanding officer LCol Al Merilainen during a parade in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 30.
Merilainen replaces LCol David Snow, who had commanded the squadron for the past two years.
Born in Toronto, Merilainen joined the Canadian Armed Forces in 1998. Following pilot training, Merilainen was posted to 424 Transport and Rescue Squadron in Trenton, as a search and rescue pilot on the CC-130E/H Hercules. He spent several more years in Trenton at 426 Transport Training Squadron as a search and rescue instructor pilot, 437 Transport Squadron as a transport and air-to-air refuelling pilot, 8 Wing Headquarters as the Wing Flight Safety Officer, and 426 Squadron as the standards officer.
Merilainen deployed on multiple operations throughout his career including: Operation Hestia following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, Operation Mobile in support of the military intervention in Libya and troop rotation flights into Afghanistan. He has held multiple positions outside of Trenton. These include 1 Canadian Air Division in Winnipeg as a senior staff officer air mobility and senior staff officer of air force standards, and the Royal Canadian Air Force Aerospace Warfare Centre as the branch head for aerospace warfare education.
A graduate of the Joint Command and Staff Program at the Canadian Forces College in Toronto, Merilainen also holds an honours bachelor of aviation technology from Seneca College in Toronto and is a military fellow at the Atlantic Council in Washington, D.C.
Merilainen was promoted to his current rank in 2016 and is moving to Ottawa. He is an avid cyclist and enjoys world travel.
“412 Transport Squadron provides vital support to the Government of Canada and Canadian Armed Forces by way of ensuring their global transport requirements are met and provide emergency medical evacuation. I want to thank LCol Snow for his leadership as the commanding officer of 412 Squadron and his dedication throughout his entire career in the Canadian Armed Forces,” said Col Ryan Deming, commander, 8 Wing Trenton
“I am honoured to be selected as the commanding officer of 412 Transport Squadron. The women and men of this unit work tirelessly to ensure that we are ready to respond when called upon, 365 days a year. I look forward to building upon the work of LCol Snow and his team, and ensuring that 412 Squadron continues its tradition of excellence and professionalism,” added Merilainen.