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    Outgoing 4 CDSG Commander BGen Louis Lapointe (right) uses physical distancing practices as part of COVID-19 precautions to pass the Drill Cane from outgoing Formation Sergeant Major (FSM) Chief Warrant Officer (CWO) Tom Verner (not pictured) to incoming 4 CDSG FSM CWO Jack Durnford (left) as part of the June 26 Change of Command and Change of Appointment ceremony. (Photo by Able Seaman Elizabeth Ross)

    Col Lapointe hands over the drill cane to CWO Jack Durnford with table and Canada Flag behind
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    BGen Lapointe addresses members of the 4 CDSG Defence Team. (Photo by Able Seaman Elizabeth Ross)

    Col Lapointe stands in front of podium with crest on front
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    Garrison Petawawa’s new Command Team, 4 CDSG Commander Col John Vass (right) and Formation Sergeant Major (FSM) CWO Jack Durnford (left). (Photo by Able Seaman Elizabeth Ross)

    Vass and Durnford sit near each other behind table
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    The outgoing 4th Canadian Division Support Group (4 CDSG) Commander Brigadier-General (BGen) Louis Lapointe (left) signs over authority of 4 CDSG to incoming 4 CDSG Commander Colonel John Vass, with 4th Canadian Division Commander BGen Conrad Mialkowski (centre) presiding over the first ever virtual Change of Command and Change of Appointment ceremony at Garrison Petawawa. The ceremony, which was held at the Normandy Officers’ Mess on Friday, June 26, was attended by only a handful of guests to respect COVID-19 precautions and was live-streamed on the Garrison Petawawa Facebook page. (Photo by Able Seaman Elizabeth Ross)

    Incoming and Outgoing Command Teams sitting and standing behind table



New Command Team for 4th Canadian Division Support Group

By Patricia Leboeuf

Posted on Thursday July 9th, 2020

Colonel (Col) John Vass stepped into his role as 4th Canadian Division Support Group (4 CDSG) Commander, taking over from newly-promoted Brigadier-General (BGen) Louis Lapointe during a virtual Change of Command and Change of Appointment ceremony held at the Normandy Officers’ Mess.

The ceremony also marked the handover from outgoing Formation Sergeant Major (FSM) Chief Warrant Officer (CWO) Tom Verner to incoming FSM CWO Jack Durnford.

Members of the Garrison Petawawa Defence Team, community leaders and the public were offered the opportunity to view the ceremony on June 26 as a live-streamed event on the Garrison Petawawa Facebook page.

“It is my distinct pleasure to be able to stand before you today,” said Col Vass in his first address as 4 CDSG Commander. “I’ve waited a long time to be given the opportunity to return home and continue to serve this great nation.

“I truly look forward to getting reacquainted with Garrison Petawawa and continue to deepen the superb relationships with the local community to ensure that Petawawa continues to be such a desirable and attractive place to call home,” he added.

In light of its online format, and to obey physical distancing regulations set out by the government, it was unlike traditional Change of Command ceremonies that have come before. There was no grandeur of a full parade and it was attended by only a handful of guests.

But the small and intimate event was of no less in importance in the history of 4 CDSG and was rich with symbolism and tradition.

It highlighted many changes to 4 CDSG under BGen Lapointe’s time at the helm of Garrison Petawawa. Throughout his three-year tenure, he was accompanied by his Command Team partner CWO Verner, and together they achieved many things, from strengthening relationships between the military and the community to establishing a greener, more sustainable workplace, all while overseeing 4 CDSG’s mission of providing Garrison-based institutional support to all Army Formations within Ontario, and support to all lodger units housed within its area of responsibility.

BGen Lapointe extended his heartfelt gratitude to all those who helped him achieve his goals.

“To all 4 CDSG past and present leadership teams, thank you for your patience in supporting my ideas,” said BGen Lapointe, offering words of praise to his staff, peers and colleagues, particularly CWO Verner.

“It has been an amazing three years,” he said. “I could not have asked for a better Fire Team partner.”

As his last official act, he oversaw the Change of Appointment between CWO Verner and CWO Durnford.

“I wish that every officer would have the privilege of serving alongside NCOs of your calibre at least once in their career,” BGen Lapointe said.

With full confidence in his successor, he graciously handed over his command through the signing of the scrolls, which was presided over by Commander 4th Canadian Division (4 Div) and Joint Task Force (Central) Brigadier-General Conrad Mialkowski and 4 Div Formation Sergeant-Major CWO Keith Olstad.
BGen Mialkowski viewed this day as a passing of a torch between two officers as well as two NCOs, all having displayed incredible commitment, dedication and leadership to get to this position.

He highlighted the work that CWO Verner accomplished, praising his leadership, and also shared his pride in the outgoing Commander.

“Your leadership and what you brought from your various experiences around the world has done nothing but advance the cause of the support group here in Petawawa, in Toronto, in London and all across Ontario,” said BGen Mialkowski. 

He then welcomed the new 4 CDSG Commander Col Vass back to the area.

“We are thrilled to have you here on the Petawawa team, not only as a son of the Ottawa Valley with all the great connections you have with the residents of the Upper Ottawa Valley, but equally the talents of your military professional experience,” said BGen Mialkowski.

With sights set on his new posting in Alaska, BGen Lapointe had one last message for 4 CDSG.

“I know this new leadership team will lead you well and continue the 4 CDSG mission,” said BGen Lapointe. “I have no doubt that things will be different, but I know they will put their heart and soul in making our Garrison a great place to work and live.”