York Unit Brings Canadian
Forces, Air Guard Troops Together
— While North American Aerospace Defense Command celebrates
its rich and historic 50-year history, one unit will remain
watching the skies just as it did on Sept. 11, 2001. The terrorist attacks
on the United States are still etched in the mind of Capt.
Rob Hogarth, who is assigned to the New
York Air National Guard’s Northeast
Air Defense Sector.
members of the unit, which is responsible for the air defense
of the eastern United States, Hogarth found himself at war
on the morning of Sept. 11, as the Twin Towers fell and United
Flight 93 crashed in a farmer’s field. He and other members
of NEADS, as the Rome-based unit is known, did their utmost
to secure the skies over America that day.
though, isn’t a member of the Air National Guard. He’s a member
of the Canadian Forces and one of 15 Canadians who play a key
role in the operational air defense mission of NORAD.
was impossible to separate the actions of the Canadians and
those of the Americans, because the Canadian Component is an
integral part of NEADS, and we have been incorporated seamlessly
into the team," Hogarth wrote in an article for a Canadian
air force publication. "It was a tremendous honor and
responsibility to have a nation put its faith in you, to trust
you to keep them safe. I am very proud to have been called
upon to defend that faith and to justify that trust. In every
sense, the men and women of NEADS rose to the occasion."
inception, close cooperation between Canada and the United
States has been a hallmark of the organization, and Hogarth
— now on his second tour at NEADS — exemplifies this partnership.
2006, the mission of the joint American-Canadian unit doubled
when the Southeast Air Defense Sector at Tyndall Air Force
Base, Fla., was deactivated.
in this unit worked tirelessly to ensure that the expansion
of our air defense mission was seamless," said Col. Clark
Speicher, NEADS commander. "Transitioning from controlling
500,000 square miles to 1 million square miles of airspace
would seem like a huge undertaking, yet the professionalism
displayed by everyone in the unit ensured that this expansion
was and remains continuously flawless. At NEADS, we have a
no-fail mission, and everyone works to ensure that this is
the Canadian Component also reach out to the local community
through speaking engagements, color guard details, and annual
events such as the Canadian Component Mess Dinner.
encourage everyone in the unit, including the Canadians posted
here, to support and contribute to the local community," Lt.
Col. Wendy Rickards, the Canadian Component commander, said. "Our
relationship with the community here has been strengthened
by these positive actions and, in turn, community members have
always remained extremely supportive of our unit and our mission."
efforts of local veterans, the city of Rome, and members of
the Canadian Component resulted in Rome becoming the first
U.S. city to be presented a Canadian flag by the Canadian Forces,
in a ceremony on May 21, 2005.
the course of planning the event, it became evident that it
was a historical first," said Capt. Chris Semchuk, a Canadian
forces member who is assigned to NEADS as a senior director
aerospace controller. "No American city had ever been
presented a Canadian flag by the Canadian forces and, after
almost two years of planning, two Canadian flags were presented
to Rome Mayor James Brown."
Component commander at the time, Lt. Col François Malo,
presented Brown with a Canadian flag — previously flown on
the Peace Tower of Canada’s Parliament — mounted in a shadow
box and accompanied by a copy of the Jan. 28, 1965, National
Flag Royal Proclamation. The second flag was raised over Rome’s
city hall, where it still flies today.
the significance of the event by stating that he was "honored
to be a part of this event which was a first in both American
and Canadian history."
beginnings in World War II, air defense has been a continuous
process of modernization. Of more than 12 air defense sectors
that have been deactivated, NEADS is one of the only two operational
sectors in the continental United States still in existence.
The Western Air Defense Sector, operating out of McChord Air
Force Base, Wash., is NEADS’ sister sector.
the first sector to modernize from a manual air defense system
to the Semi-Automatic Ground Environment, or SAGE, System.
The unit became operational in 1958 and set the standard for
other sectors to follow, according to the unit’s history.
As part of
an Air Force reorganization that started in 1993, NEADS was
the first air defense sector to transform from the regular
Air Force to the Air National Guard. During that transition,
Griffiss Air Force Base in Rome also was realigned into the
Griffiss Business and Technology Park, where NEADS is located.
Griffiss realignment, NEADS was transformed as well. The unit’s
successful transformation set the transformation standard,
and its lessons learned helped ensure a successful transition
for the other sectors and 1st Air Force, Speicher said.
to the Air National Guard and Canadian forces military personnel
assigned to NEADS, the unit’s staff includes federal civil
service and civilian contractor personnel and active-duty members
of the Air Force, Navy, Army and Coast Guard.