Regina aircrew savours aroma of home

HMCS Regina’s Air Detachment

HMCS Regina’s Air Detachment enjoys a cup of coffee while gathered on the flight deck with their Sea King helicopter behind them.

When the pilots of HMCS Regina’s air detachment from 443 Maritime Helicopter (MH) Squadron left Victoria for Operation Artemis, they brought some special cargo with them. 

Amidst the uniforms, tools, spare parts of other equipment required to operate a CH-124 Sea King helicopter, they brought 10 pounds of Salt Spring Island Coffee, donated by Toast Café in Sidney, B.C.

Lisa, Amy, and Kayla Gray, three sisters and owners of Toast Café enjoy a long-standing relationship with members of 443 Squadron, as many of the aircrew stop in for their morning coffee en route to the squadron co-located at the Victoria International Airport.

“The Peninsula offers many nice cafés to choose from, but Toast is a favourite. They know us by name, brew great coffee, and serve up all kinds of in house made goodies,” said Captain Daniel “Booya” Baouya.

Knowing that everyone likes to bring a piece of home with them when they sail, Captain Baouya wanted to bring a touch of Toast to share with the Air Detachment to boost morale.

“It’s a bit of a joke within the department that I’m the self-appointed Morale Officer, but I take my job seriously. Every time we leave a new port, we gather on the flight deck, brew up some coffee, and settle back into ‘sea life’. As a token of our appreciation, we take a picture with our “I love Toast Sidney” sticker to send back to them,” he says.

According to the Air Detachment Commander, Maj Steve Donaldson, “Port visits are very hectic. The demands of bringing on supplies and spare parts combined with the desire to get a few hours of rest and relaxation away from the ship sometime means you don’t see your colleagues for a few days. So having this event the first evening after the ship sails provides everyone with the chance to reconnect, share some stories, and refocus the team’s energy towards our mission for the upcoming patrol.”

Regina arrived in the Arabian Sea on Aug. 19 after a six-week transit from Esquimalt. While deployed on Operation Artemis, the frigate will conduct maritime interdiction and counter terrorism operations in the Gulf of Aden, Gulf of Oman, the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea as part of Combined Task Force-150. 

Thanks to the generosity of Toast Café in Sidney, the Air Detachment has enjoyed four coffee get-togethers so far on this deployment. Who knows, perhaps an Air Force tradition is born?

Lt(N) Chris Walkinshaw, HMCS Regina

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