Jeff Morris looks back on his tenure as the Honorary Colonel for the 443(MH) Squadron with a great deal of pride. Yet the memories are a little bittersweet: a mixture of gratitude for the opportunity that his role afforded him to meet with what he called a “remarkable group of men and women,” and some regret that he will no longer be fulfilling that role.
For Morris, it was a role that transcended the official job description and moved into developing deep personal relationships with the squadron.
“I gave them a sounding board … a way of asking for advice on issues, both professional and personal, without having their concerns become part of their official military record,” said Morris.
“In some ways, I like to think I became everyone’s favourite uncle.”
Morris was originally appointed to the position on January 6, 2009 for what was to be a three year term. That term was extended to this year and, when it came to an end, it was time for Morris to give up the position to the new Honorary Colonel, Sidney businessman, Mike Sudul.
Although Sudul was appointed to the position in October of 2014, the official handover of duties came on December 8, 2014 at a special ceremony to mark the occasion.
“I know that Jeff Morris did an amazing job, and I’m determined to live up to his work with the job that I do,” said Sudul.
He said he feels he brings a lot to the position as well.
“I have solid connections both within the local business community and the community at large, as well as over 40 years as a pilot and the relationships I’ve built in the aviation community,” said Sudul.
He added that he plans to use those roots in the community to act as a liaison between the 443 (MH) Squadron and the Saanich Peninsula communities.
“The turnover can be quite high in squadrons like this, and the Honorary Colonel tends to be grounded in the community to provide a consistent point of contact.”
As for taking over the ‘favourite uncle’ role of his predecessor, Sudul said that it’s something he will certainly try to emulate.
“There are times when people in the military need to deal with a personal situation, a family situation, and they may not want it to become a part of an official record. My position allows me to listen, offer advice where it’s asked for and even approach the CO on an informal basis to look for solutions,” said Sudul.
But Sudul is quick to point out that the role of the Honorary Colonel is also one of fostering esprit de corps and developing strong community support for the unit.
“I’ve met these men and women now and I’m so impressed with the calibre of personnel within the squadron,” said Sudul. “These people deserve the best I can offer.”
Every Honorary Colonel will do the job a little differently, according to Sudul.
“Jeff (Morris) did an amazing job, and I know that I have big shoes to fill … but maybe it’s better to think of it like this … I have my own shoes to walk in.”
— Tim Collins/News staff