Veterans’ Week 2014

News Article / November 7, 2014

In the week or so before Remembrance Day, no matter where you live in Canada, you’ll see and hear some remarkable things and some remarkable people.

You’ll see tables in malls, manned by men and women in uniforms of navy blue and grey, and mobbed by young children. You’ll see elderly men and women selling poppies everywhere; they may appear frail, as if the next gust of wind will carry them off, but at their cores remains the iron that saw them through war. If you’re very lucky, you’ll hear tales of daring and courage in the skies over France and South Korea and Afghanistan.

In the week or so before Remembrance Day, learn from their experiences, be moved by their courage and resiliency, and thank them.

Through the Veterans Week Speakers’ Program, Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) members will be speaking to Canadians throughout the country, explaining what they do and sharing their experiences. RCAF veterans will be selling poppies and sharing their memories and insight.

Look for Veterans Week events in your area. Stop in at your local branch of the Royal Canadian Legion.

Canada’s veterans were there for us then. They are still here for us now.

Canada’s veterans

Matthew Carson

Matthew Carson, who lives with his wife, Marion, in Almonte, Ontario, began his career in the RCAF in 1955, at RCAF Station Rockcliffe, Ontario, just outside Ottawa, as a crewman on Lancasters.

He and his fellow crewmen were set to mapping the Arctic and doing ice patrols. And keeping an eye on the Russians. “They were on a floating icecap.” He paused for effect. “In Canadian waters.” Another pause. “Things don’t change much,” he said, laughing.

He served overseas for four years as a mechanic on Canadair F-86 Sabre fighter jets, and then returned to Canada to No. 2 Flying Training School at Gimli, Manitoba.

“I was there when they introduced the Tutor fighter jet trainer, which is what the Snowbirds [aerobatic team] fly,” he said with obvious pride.

Mr. Carson went back to school, to cross-train in the other aircraft trades via the technical crewman’s course. From there, he was posted to Ottawa, to 412 Squadron, the VIP transport squadron, and then to flight engineer’s school.

In 1968, the Canadian Forces Reorganization Act saw the Royal Canadian Navy, the Canadian Army, and the Royal Canadian Air Force amalgamated to create the Canadian Forces. Mr. Carson recalls being one of the few people who were, a year later, “still running around in an old blue uniform,” he said with a laugh.

He was told to get a green one. Instead, he asked for his release.

“But in 1971, having the service of country in my mind, I ended up back in the reserves – wearing a green uniform in spite of myself,” he said ruefully.

He released for good in 1973, with 18 years’ service but, like so many RCAF members, he didn’t retire far from the business of flight. In 1977, he went to work at Pratt & Whitney (Canada), a company that originally repaired Pratt & Whitney Hartford (Connecticut) aircraft engines but grew to design and manufacture its own engines. He worked in the company’s Flight Test Group for 25 years, 10 of those in Europe, and retired again in 2002.

Since then, Mr. Carson has served on the executive of the Canadian Aeronautics and Space Institute, and “been busier, it seems, than I ever was working,” he said.

Ted Mahood

Since his retirement from the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) in 1987, Ted Mahood has been “a staunch member of the RCAF Association,” he said. “I’ve been on the executive of the Ontario group, and the national president, and I’m now the chairman of the RCAFA Trust Fund.”

Mr. Mahood served in the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) for 30 years.

“I was an aero-engine technician,” he said. “I started out in Cold Lake, Alberta. I spent five years there. Post-war. The Cold War. And it was cold.”

He moved on to RCAF Station Centralia, in Ontario, “and then they closed it,” Mr. Mahood said.

He was posted to RCAF Station Moose Jaw, which became Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Moose Jaw in 1968, after Canada’s three military services – the Royal Canadian Navy, the Canadian Army and the RCAF – were amalgamated to form the Canadian Forces.

“After Moose Jaw,” he said, “I went to Comox, British Columbia. I was nine years there, on the Neptunes and the Argus.”

The Canadair CP-107 Argus, a marine reconnaissance aircraft designed and manufactured for the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) and Canadian Forces (CF), replaced the Neptune as Canada’s go-to maritime aircraft. In its early years, the Argus was reputedly the finest anti-submarine patrol bomber in the world. The Argus served throughout the Cold War in the RCAF’s Maritime Air Command and later in Maritime Air Group and Air Command.

Mr. Mahood’s service was not confined to Canada. He served in Europe and in Australia, and in Alaska and through the lower 48 states.

From Comox, Mr. Mahood crossed Canada to serve at Chatham, New Brunswick, and then was posted back to CFB Petawawa, Ontario. And Chatham was closed.

“Yeah,” he said with a grin, “they close ’em after I leave.”

At Petawawa, he began the big shift of his RCAF career, “from fixed wing to rotary,” he said. CFB Petawawa gave way to 450 Squadron in Ottawa, Ontario, and the Chinook helicopter.

“Out of my 30 years,” he said, “I was about 15 on fixed-wing and 15 years on rotary.”

“I like retirement, and the [RCAF] Association keeps me in touch with the guys,” Mr. Mahood said. “But I need to go back to work for a rest.”

World Wars Commemoration Period

2014 to 2020

 

The World Wars Commemoration period, 2014 to 2020, marks the 100th anniversary of the First World War and the 75th anniversary of the Second World War. This Veterans’ Week, join us in honouring the hundreds of thousands of Canadian men and women who bravely served our country during these wars.

As a country, we must never forget the more than 650,000 Canadians and Newfoundlanders who served in the First World War, from 1914 through 1918, and the more than one million Canadian and Newfoundland men and women who served in the Second World War. They were willing to risk everything to protect the peace and freedom we cherish today.

 On November 11th, Canadians will have the opportunity to proudly witness the rededication of the Canadian National War Memorial. New inscriptions on the monument’s base will recognize all who have sacrificed in service to Canada. Their actions have kept and continue to keep Canada strong, proud and free.

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