L-R: Major Rick Lewis, Rick Meijer (Northern Wing Chair- BCPC), 2nd Ltd Yvonne Melo (Administration Officer- DND), Travis Mallia (Assistant Supply Officer), Cathy Ray, Trina Evans (Chair- SSC), Christa Flowers (Supply Officer), CV Anita Wlasitz, L Colonel Shawn Burtenshaw (Training Officer), Captain John Callaghan (Commanding Officer). Photo Fiona Maureen

899 Vanderhoof Air Cadets service awards

Cadet program recognises service and training

On Tue. Nov. Dec. 5, at 6:30 p.m. the Royal Canadian Air Cadet Squadron 899 Vanderhoof put on a good show and gave visiting guests an impressive tour of their facility at the Gospel Chapel in Vanderhoof. Then the evening proceeded with formal recognition of several of their members as that is one of the things that is important to the Cadet Program, and that is taking time to acknowledge and recognise the service that individuals have done in their community as well as promotions and awards based on years of service, and training. Several were recognised on this occasion:

Cathy Ray was recognised for her 7 years of service at the occasion of her retirement from working with the sponsoring committee from Oct. 2010 to Nov. 28, 2017. During that time Ray held various roles including Treasurer, Secretary and all around ‘go-to’ person for information.

Captain Brad McRobert received the Canadian Decoration for 12 years of Exemplary Service to the Department of National Defense. The award was presented to him by Major Rick Lewis.

Three officers were presented with Certificates of Appreciation from the BCPC (British Columbia Provincial Committee) Air Cadet League of Canada. They were 2nd Lieutenant Yvonne Melo, Captain John Callaghan and retired 2nd Lt Colonial Shawn Burtenshaw. Below follow their biographies detailing their significant contribution.

2nd Lt Yvonne Melo became involved with cadets in September 1999 when her daughter joined the Vanderhoof air cadets. When she discovered there was a lack of parent supervision in the building, she decided to remain in the building to help and provided much appreciated assistant. While hanging around, she got talked into becoming the administration clerk as a Civilian Volunteer Oct 18, 2000. In 2012 she became a Cadet Officer. Yvonne has been looking after the administration for the 899 Vanderhoof Air Cadets since 2000. She is a fantastic asset to the unit. She also helps with teaching classes when needed, or helping in supply. If Melo is needed for anything she does her best to help.

Captain John Alexander Callaghan has coached marksmanship for many years and still currently runs the Range Program with the 899 Vanderhoof Air Cadets. He became commanding Officer of the 899 Vanderhoof Air Cadet Squadron in 2009 and was CO until 2015. He recently became CO again and currently holds that position. He has demonstrated a lifelong dedication to the Cadet Program and the betterment of his Cadets is something that means a great deal to John, and he shows no sign of stopping his dedication.

Callaghan joined the Cadet Program in 1995 through the Navy League. In 1997 he joined the 396 Air Cadet Squadron in Prince George. Having grown up in the program, John took every opportunity Cadets offered him and excelled. Throughout his cadet career John earned Top Cadet for levels 1, 2, 3, and 4. The Warrant Officer Award, The Legion Medal of Excellence and 7 years Perfect attendance – not a single cadet night missed, he also achieved the rank of Warrant Officer 1.

Callaghan attended multiple Summer camps including Basic, Junior Leadership, Survival Instructor, Senior Leaders, and worked as a Staff Cadet for three summers. He was also a part of multiple teams during his cadet career including Drill Team First Sid Team, Bus Master and Band. He aged out when he was 19 years old and joined with the 899 Vanderhoof Air Cadet Squadron under CO Laura Britain as a Civilian Volunteer where he was Training Officer from 2004 – 2009 becoming an Officer in October 2006. After becoming an Officer he completed the following various leadership and qualification courses.

Retired LCol Shawn Burtenshaw started as an Air Cadet when he was 13 years old in Medicine Hat. As a cadet he was in charge of the annual inspection. He then attended Royal Roads Military College in Victoria, B.C where he was issued a rifle and did more intense training in rifle drill. He has been Parade Marshall for 4 of the last 5 years (Remembrance Day). He has a degree in chemical engineering. Also a true passion for Air Navigation, which took him to Europe and South America. He spent 5 years with the Navy Sea King. He was also with the Naval Air Development Center.

While posted in Shearwater, B.C. Burtenshaw was involved in the search for SwissAir Flight 111. With a posting in Belgium in 2002 he became part of the Canadian Forces Military Representative Staff as NATO Headquarters, taking part in the development of NATO policies. He retired from a 33 year career in the military in 2009. He finished with the reservist position in 2010 at the winter Olympics in Vancouver as the appointed commander of the Canadian Forces liaison staff to public safety.

Burtenshaw held the position of Civilian Volunteer and instructor. He started with 899 Vanderhoof in 2011. He was one of the instructors for the Air Cadets Effective Speaking Program. 899 Vanderhoof Cadets’ main instructor moved away and Colonel (Shawn) continued the program taking the Cadets to competition in Quesnel. This vast experience in the military has been a great asset to the squadron. He is always willing to help and teach the Cadets. Half way through the year he had to take over teaching the Cadets drill and took it on without hesitation. He does his best to be at all events and fundraisers to support the cadets.


Captain Bryanne Materi (Flight Commander and Assistant Training Officer) and her husband Captain Brad McRoberts (Deputy Commanding Officer and Standards) with their two year old daughter Tyndall. Photo Fiona Maureen

Marching in line, Royal Canadian Air Cadet Squadron 899 Vanderhoof. Photo Fiona Maureen

Crp. Kostuch was recently promoted to Flight Corporal. Photo submitted

AC DeVries recently received a badge for Emergency First Aid and for Excellence in Athletics. Photo submitted.

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