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Russ Williams salutes as he arrives at the Battle of Britain parade in Trenton, Ont. in this Sept. 20, 2009.

The Canadian Press

After obtaining a degree in economics and political science from the University of Toronto, Colonel Russ Williams enrolled in the Canadian Forces in 1987, according to his Department of National Defence biography.

He soon became a pilot, earning his wings in 1990. He was posted to 3 Canadian Forces Flying Training School, based in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, where he worked as an instructor.

In 1992, Col. Williams was posted to 434 (Combat Support) Squadron in Shearwater, Nova Scotia. There, he flew Challenger jets in what DND calls a "electronic warfare/coastal patrol role". Then he was posted to the 412 (Transport) Squadron in Ottawa, where he transported VIPs, including high-ranking government officials and foreign dignitaries, also on Challengers.

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He was promoted to a major in November, 1999, and became the career manager for multi-engine pilots.

Col. Williams went back to school in 2003-2004, earning a Master of Defence Studies from the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ont. Following his graduation in June, 2004, he was promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel and made commanding officer of 437 (Transport) Squadron in Trenton, Ont., a job he held for two years. During that period, he also served as a commanding officer at Camp Mirage, a secretive forward operating location believed to be located near Dubai.

In 2006, Col. Williams was posted to the directorate of air requirements, where he worked as project director for fixed-wing search and rescue, among other projects.

Col. Williams began six months of French instruction in Gatineau, Que., in January, 2009. During that time, he was promoted to Colonel.

He assumed command of 8 Wing Trenton, which is based at CFB Trenton, last July.

"I look forward to meeting many more members of the community and strengthening that relationship Col. [Mike Hood, his predecessor]worked so hard to develop," Col. Williams said at the time, according to the Northumberland News.

The DND biography says Col. Williams is a "a keen photographer, fisherman and runner". He and his wife Mary Elizabeth also play golf.

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The couple bought a house on Cosy Cove Lane in Tweed, which is about 60 kilometres northeast of CFB Trenton, in 2004.

With a report from Celia Donnelly

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