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  • Writer's pictureMartin Zeilig

Sergeant Dylan Weller wins SAR Tech of the Year Award

Sergeant Dylan Weller, a SAR Tech at 435 Transport and Rescue Squadron, admits that he knew from a young age that he wanted to become a SAR Tech in the Canadian Armed Forces.

Photo credit: Martin Zeilig, Voxair Photojournalist

Photo credit: Martin Zeilig, Voxair Photojournalist

Sgt Weller won the SAR TECH OF THE YEAR 2020-2021 award recently.

He was presented with a large trophy, which remains in the SAR Tech’s office in 16 Hangar, as well as a small glass plaque.

“I joined the military to become a SAR Tech,” Sgt Weller said.

He first heard about the trade at age 12 when he was an Air Cadet in his hometown of Burlington, Ontario.

“I thought it was really cool,” Sgt Weller said. “So, that’s what I aimed for.”

The 2020-2021 year was a particularly quiet one for 435 Sqn with less than 10 missions for the section, says the nomination form for the award submitted by Dan Verret, SAR Tech Leader 435 Sqn.

“Although traditionally recognizing great feats in an operational setting, it has been explained that the SAR Tech of the Year award is not just about missions and makes room to recognize those members who contribute greatly in other ways such as their benefit to the Section, Sqn, RCAF, CAF and their community.”

“Sgt Dylan Weller shines as that dedicated, reliable and passionate member always seeking to make our trade a better place. Although his work is not always up-front and in the spotlight, his quiet, deeply analytical and passionate concern for the occupation puts him at the forefront as my nomination for this year’s 435 Sqn SAR Tech of the Year.”

Sgt Weller joined 435 Sqn in July 2020 and very quickly integrated into a new section as a MCpl. Arriving at a new section with the majority being very junior members presented a challenge for a MCpl new to the group. Through trial and error, Sgt Weller navigated the various situations presented to him and quickly adapted his leadership style, never giving up on his vision of an elite section; a vision that called for professionalism, maturity and a high standard from all members.

“His in-depth knowledge of regulations and procedures not only provided an extremely positive impact to training but made him instrumental in preparing the STL, who had been out-of-trade for three years, for his C130 and Standards check-rides.

Sgt Weller’s mentorship of junior members was key in the development of knowledge and proficiency of this young group. Never discouraged by a subordinate’s reluctance to change or difficulty with skills, he continuously mentored his fellow SAR Techs in pursuit of excellence.

On numerous occasions, he requested meetings to discuss the development and progress of junior members and provided excellent insight into the culture and need for change in the 435 SAR Tech section. His ability to carefully present ideas for change are commendable, and his desire for group elite performance impressive.

This past year has not been without opportunity for Sgt Weller to showcase his core SAR Skills, both in 413 and 435 Sqn. He has been involved in four notable missions: first, a rescue of a capsized kayaker wherein he dropped two bundles; second, the recovery of a stranded boater; third, the aerial delivery of supplies to injured hikers; and finally, a very complex rescue effort involving a disabled vessel carrying a crew of Inuit fisherman.”

It was also noted that Sgt Weller has championed the interests and social awareness of the SAR Tech trade with his creation and hosting of the “SAR Take” Podcast.

“On his own time, he spends countless hours planning, preparing, coordinating, conducting and editing episodes that promote visibility on our occupation and more specifically on the stories of its members,” says submitted material.

“This has succeeded in achieving several great benefits for our occupation such as preserving our history, recognizing the accomplishments of our members and serving as an excellent recruitment tool for new applicants by showcasing the excellent opportunities available in the RCAF.”

Despite his achievements, Sgt Weller remains humble yet forthright.

He stresses that the best part of being a SAR Tech is the camaraderie created by working with a lot of interesting people who have trained hard and continue to do so over the years.

“It’s awesome,” he said. “It’s a ton of work, but some of the things we do are pretty incredible. I’ve been to places in Canada where others will probably never go.

The values and lessons and all the things I’ve learned as a SAR Tech have really shaped me as a person. I owe it back as a trade. It’s one thing to be part of the military. That’s cool, but the SAR Tech trade is unique.”

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