Featured Squadron of the Month

204 Black Maria RCACS Squadron Crest

204 Black Maria Squadron

Squadron Name:  204 Black Maria Squadron
Chartered:  November 12, 1942 
Status:  Active
Community: Kamloops, BC

Squadron History

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204 Black Maria Squadron received their charter on November 12, 1942. In the community of Kamloops, rumor has it, the squadron was parading since the late 1939 or 1940 as a way of getting teenage boys and young men ready for the Air Force. We have not been able to substantiate this by ACLC or DND records. The Squadron has been active since its conception in 1942 except for one year at the conclusion of WWll.

In its 82 years of existence 204 has had 3 Monarchs; King George Vl, Queen Elizabeth ll, and King Charles lll. The Squadron is also very proud to boast that they have had the privilege of visits by 3 members of the Royal Family.

The 204 Black Maria Squadron got its name partially from the WW1 ‘Black Flight’ Squadron, as all the planes in the squadron were painted black. One of these airplanes, the “Black Maria” was the name of Vice Air Marshall Raymond Collishaw’s Sopwith Triplane. In England, the “Black Maria” was the name of an enclosed van used to transport prisoners, here we called them Paddy Wagons. During the second world war Vice Air Marchall Collishaw commanded the 204 Group which later became the Desert Air Force in North Africa.

After aging out of the program, 204 Kamloops Squadron as it was known then, had Cadets who, were sent to the 419 “Moose” Tactical Fighter Squadron in England. The first CO of this squadron was W/C John “Moose” Fulton who was raised in Kamloops.


The following are the names that have been given to the squadron:

  • 204 Kamloops Squadron
  • 204 Moose Fulton Squadron representative of our close connection with the City of Kamloops, Fulton Field (Airport) and 419 Moose Squadron
  • 204 Kamloops Lions Squadron
  • 204 Black Maria Squadron was adopted in 1976
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Despite the fact that 204 Black Maria Squadron has always had strong support from the community of Kamloops along with dedicated staff and volunteers it was forced to move on seven (7) occasions for various reasons.

The first location for the squadron was Stuart Wood School. the second was the Kamloops United Church, from there the squadron moved to the Boys & Girls Club on MacArthur Island. It stayed there until 2014 when the City of Kamloops demolished the building. The Squadron then moved to the Westside Elementary School until 2019. The next move took the squadron to Heffley Creek Elementary School. During the Covid 19 pandemic, 204 found themselves without a home until 2022 when they moved to the CFC location at the Kamloops airport. 204 Black Maria Squadron is now sharing this facility with the Army Cadets (2305) Sea Cadets (137) and the Navy League Cadets (102) at the Kamloops Cadet Hall.


Several generous groups have contributed to the successes of 204 Black Maria Air Cadet Squadron. In addition to the volunteer members of the 204 Squadron Sponsoring Committee, Corporate sponsorships from the 886 RCAF Association Overlander Wing, the Kamloops Lions Club, the Kamloops ANAvets, the Kamloops Elks, and numerous other private and public contributors have enabled the squadron to grow and thrive in the city of Kamloops.


After graduating from the program, Cadets from 204 Black Maria squadron have gone onto many rewarding and distinguished careers. Over the 82 years, many Cadets have been highly decorated.

Colonel Adam Carlson is one such Cadet. He served as the Deputy Commander CJCR and now serves as the Director Royal Canadian Air Force Training. He credits his Cadet career for the “values and lessons…including discipline, teamwork, and self-confidence for having played a key role in shaping who he is today. He is quoted as having said “Being an Air Cadet fueled my passion for aviation, allowing me to earn my glider pilot wings – which became a catalyst for my career as a pilot in the CAF”.

One other 204 Cadet that made local front-page news and provincial news was Cpl. Shannon Young. For her courageous act of bravery. Cpl. Young received both the Cadet Medal for Bravery and the Governor General Medal for Bravery.

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Corporal Shannon Diane Young, Kamloops, British Columbia

Decorations for Bravery:

On May 17, 2012, then 13-year-old Leading Air Cadet (LAC) Shannon Young helped two children escape after an armed man made his way into her family’s house in Kamloops, British Columbia. LAC Young first hid the children in an upstairs room; then, despite the risk of being injured or taken hostage by the gunman, she guided them downstairs and out of the house to safety.

For her role in protecting the children, LAC Shannon D. Young was awarded the Cadet Medal of Bravery on February 5th, 2015. She then received the Governor General of Canada Medal for Bravery on March 4th, 2016.

In 2015, Corporal Shannon Young was only the second Air Cadet in BC to ever receive the Cadet Medal for Bravery.


The present-day CO and Sponsoring Committee of 204 Black Maria Squadron are pleased to see the growth in numbers of Cadets following the pandemic. During the pandemic, Cadets on strength dipped to 17. Today the squadron Cadet strength numbers closer to 50. We are hopeful that this growth will continue, and more youth will choose to tap into this great community resource we support – Air Cadets!

1942-1946: Frank Potter1986-1988: Wayne Bignell
1946-1947: D McPherson1988-1992: Don Doern
1947-1957: George Henderson1992-1994: Bruce Setter
1957-1960: Gordon Williamson1994-1998: Will Merner
1960-1961: Dick Neil1998-2001: Mike Keetch
1961-1965: Peter Finn2001-2005: Bill Pertnitsky
1965-1973: Bill Mercer2005-2007: Mike Keetch
1973-1975: Tom Holland2007-2011: Sheri Keetch
1975-1976: Brain Kellewell2011-2014: Rod Totten
1976-1978: Ron Moorehouse2014-2016: Deena Aspinall
1978-1980: Cec Grady2016-2018: Sean Kelly
1980-1984: Al Davis2018-2022: Bernice Debert
1984-1986: Mike Keetch2022-Present: Annette Jarvis

For more information about 204 Black Maria Air Cadet Squadron, we invite you to click on the following link: http://www.204blackmaria.ca

Our sincere thanks to the members of the 204 SSC under the leadership of Ms. Kristy De Jong (SSC Chair) for their contributions to this month’s feature presentation.

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