The sun dipped below the tree line as the 13 Squadron Change of Command parade marched off, marking the commencement of Wing Commander Lauren Guest’s tenure as Commanding Officer.
On November 21, the role of Commanding Officer 13 Squadron and Senior ADF Officer of RAAF Base Darwin and Curtin was handed over from the newly promoted Group Captain Jim Collisson to Wing Commander Guest.
Group Captain Collisson said 13 Squadron plays a vital role providing air base operations functions within the northern base network.
“I’m in awe of this squadron during my time here. I’m particularly proud of Pitch Black 2022 when the squadron moved 17 countries in four days,” Group Captain Collisson said.
“We’ve opened a brand new fuel farm, cooked royalty quality food, and hosted visits with numerous politicians and heads of state, including the Sultan of Brunei.”
The role of Senior ADF Officer also includes RAAF Base Curtin in Western Australia and is a key position within the Darwin community.
The strategic importance of Darwin and Curtin in contributing to a sovereign Australian posture was noted by Wing Commander Guest in her speech to the parade.
“Under the 13 Squadron motto of ‘Resilient and Ready’, we will continue to stage a platform that enables the squadron, the base, and any of our ADF or visiting nations to thrive during operations or training,” she said.
“We will also exhibit an understanding that the north has more to offer than just a strategic asset for Australia’s national defence. It is about our history, culture, tourism, and the preservation of our spectacular outback and people.”
Wing Commander Guest is a logistics officer and is familiar with the Northern Territory lifestyle, having previously posted to the Top End as Executive Officer of 17 Squadron in RAAF Base Tindal.
Group Captain Collisson will now step into a new role as Director Regional Air Development Team – North after two years leading 13 Squadron.
“It has been an honour and a privilege to command the best squadron in the Air Force and, while I am very sad to be moving on, I stand forever ‘resilient and ready’ with the 13 Squadron team,” he said.
The event included the promotion of both the incoming and outgoing commanding officers, and formal handover of custodianship of the squadron Standard.
The evening parade was perfectly timed to beat the heat of the Darwin wet season, with sunset approaching as Wing Commander Guest provided her intent to the squadron.
“Your decision to serve your country, while dealing with the harshness of Australia’s north, is a mighty and selfless act. But your unwavering dedication is now more crucial than ever.”