Meet the new Base Commander

Meet the new Base Commander

James Vassallo, Base Public Affairs ~

Coming from a small town in rural Saskatchewan with wheat fields below and a big sky above, a young Jason Boyd wanted to fly.

“I wanted to be a fighter pilot as a kid,” says Capt(N) Boyd, sheepishly acknowledging the impact the film “Top Gun” had on him while growing up. “It wasn’t that I was so naïve that I didn’t know we had a navy, but the movie was the only real connection I had to the military.”

However, CFB Esquimalt’s new Base Commander did have a connection to public service, something inspired in him by his father who served with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police for 41 years.

After being approached by the Royal Military College with an offer to play hockey, get a good education, and a guaranteed job that would also allow him to serve, he jumped at it.

“They deemed I wasn’t fit to fly an aircraft but my second choice was a Maritime Surface and Sub-Surface (MARS) officer,” says Capt(N) Boyd. “All I knew was I wanted to do something operational and be in a leadership position. I’ve never looked back since.”

His time at the ice rink – supported by what he describes as some of the best lessons in leadership he ever received – gave him an appreciation of how important consistency is, and the ways to be part of, and support a team.

“The things you experience in team sports are so applicable to everyday life,” he says. “You face adversity, you learn how to deal with the ups and downs, but you work together to overcome that and accomplish goals. This bonds you with people.”

With this philosophy in place, his career as a MARS Officer led him from ships – as a bridge watchkeeper in Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Iroquois; as an Anti-Air Warfare Controller and Combat Officer in HMCS Algonquin; as Executive Officer of HMCS Ottawa; and Commanding Officer of HMCS Regina – to shore as a Shipborne Air Controller (SAC) and SAC Training Officer; through two tours at the Canadian Forces Naval Operations School in Halifax; as the Commanding Officer of the Naval Officer Training Centre in Victoria; Executive Assistant to the Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy; and in his last role as Director of New Capability Introduction, a natural fit with the new role as Base Commander.

“Looking at the future fleet pieces, I see the capabilities that lie ahead as well as what requirements we need to support those capabilities,” says Capt(N) Boyd. “A big part of that is knowledge and oversight of a bunch of elements. This is a great opportunity for us not only to posture for the future of our fleet, but also to have a direct community impact.”

Capt(N) Boyd credits his predecessor, the newly-promoted Commodore Steve Waddell, with not only moving that infrastructure piece far along, but also recognizing how tied the base is with the local community, both economically and socially.

“Cmdre Waddell has played a significant role in evolving us to where we are and where we’re going,” he says, “It’s left me in a very fortunate position where I can come in and I don’t need to make any hard helm orders. It’s going to be a challenge to try and fill his shoes, but I take tremendous comfort knowing the base is already in great shape.”

Given that position, Capt(N) Boyd says he intends to focus on getting to know the local defence team and continuing to build bridges between local government, First Nations partners, and the community-at-large.

“The Base Commander often gets labeled as that key link between the military community and the rest of the community, but the truth is that everyone in the defence team acts in some capacity as an ambassador through coaching and volunteer work and all the incredible things they do,” he says. “I just get to have the privilege to do that in an official capacity. It’s a great opportunity and an incredible honour.”

An avid golfer and fisherman who remains true to his hockey roots as a member of the CFB Esquimalt Senior Tritons, Capt(N) Boyd assumed the role of Base Commander June 22. He was accompanied by his wife Deborah, son Taylor and daughter Grace.

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