Colonel (Col) Martin Cournoyer joined the Canadian Forces (CF) in 1983, and after graduating from the Collège militaire royal de Saint-Jean (CMR Saint-Jean) in 1988, he was awarded his pilot wings and assigned to the mighty CC130 Hercules tactical transport aircraft.
Having flown over 5,100 hours on CC130 Hercules and E3A Sentry AWACS aircraft, Col Cournoyer’s operational experience includes flying tours with 435 (T&R) Squadron, then in Edmonton, Alberta, and with the “Canucks Unlimited” 436 (T) Squadron in Trenton, Ontario, where he first flew search and rescue missions, and then Basic and Advanced Tactical Airlift. He served in the Middle East during the 1991 Gulf War, flew multiple humanitarian airlift missions to Sarajevo, totalling close to 11 months in and out of the besieged city between 1992 and 1995, and supported UNAMIR troops in Rwanda, flying a multitude of humanitarian and medical evacuation missions during and after the 1994 genocide.
Colonel Cournoyer also served as an instructor pilot with the Tactical Air Transport Training Flight, and as the chief pilot instructor at 426 (T) Training Squadron in Trenton between 1995 and 1998. He also carried out the role of CC130 Tactical Airlift and KCC130 Air-to-Air Refuelling Standards and Evaluation Pilot with 1 Canadian Air Division (1 Cdn Air Div) Transport and Rescue Standardization and Evaluation Team (TRSET) from 1998 to 2001.
The second part of his operational life saw him serve with NATO’s E-3A AWACS Component in Geilenkirchen, Germany from 2002 to 2006, where he flew the mighty “Frisbees” on multiple post 9/11 airspace control missions, and commanded multiple AWACS detachments at forward operating locations during operations such as those covering the 2004 Olympics, NATO summits, and other high-visibility events. This NATO assignment also gave Col Cournoyer the unique opportunity to command NATO’s E-3A AWACS Squadron 2, and its Canadian operations element, from 2004 to 2006.
In addition to earning his science degree from CMR Saint-Jean, Col Cournoyer is a 1995 graduate of the Canadian Land Force Command and Staff Course (CLFCSC) in Kingston, a 2002 graduate of the CF Command and Staff Course (CSC 28) in Toronto, and a 2012 graduate of the National Security Programme (NSP 4), also at Canadian Forces College Toronto. He has served in multiple staff roles at National Defence Headquarters, including Executive Assistant to the Chief of the Air Staff, Director of Air Programmes, and Director of Air Staff Coordination. Having just finished the National Security Programme, he now takes command of the Canadian Forces Aerospace Warfare Centre (CFAWC) in Trenton. When not busy at work or with his family, Colonel Cournoyer still tries his best to honour his last name at our national sport, and maintains his young“ish” figure by running poorly a few times a week.