Farewell to the father of the modern RCAF

News Article / October 14, 2020

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By Emily Lindahl

When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.
-Leonardo Da Vinci

On October 14, 2020 the Royal Canadian Air Force said goodbye to one of its most influential leaders. Referred to as the father of the modern Canadian Air Force, Lieutenant-General William (Bill) Carr, CMM, DFC, OStJ, CD was born on March 19, 1923 in Grand Bank, Newfoundland before it was a part of Canada. He was 97 years old.

In a military career spanning from 1941 to 1978, he received his wings from legendary flying ace Air Marshall Billy Bishop, VC, CB, DSO & Bar, MC, DFC and ED. Beginning with his first Spitfire flight with 542 Squadron over enemy territory, to serving as the Deputy Chief of Staff (Operations) for NORAD Headquarters Colorado, to commanding the United Nations air transport operation in the Congo, Lieutenant-General Carr was a pilot with a remarkable number of flying hours over the course of his aviation career. He understood the importance of air power, and experienced first-hand the effects of technological advancements.

As a former Deputy Chief of the Defence Staff, he was responsible for identifying how the amalgamation of the services had negatively impacted the aviation arm. He saw the need to “create a consolidated organization to properly administer all military aviation in Canada.”

On September 2, 1975, his efforts paid off and Air Command was created. With its headquarters in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and Lieutenant-General Carr as its first commander, Air Command controlled all air assets within the Canadian Armed Forces.

His well-deserved awards and accolades include:

  •        Commander of the Order of Military Merit
  •        Officer of the Order of St. John
  •        Distinguished Flying Cross
  •        Aviation Hall Canadian Aviation Hall of Fame
  •        Peacekeeping Medal,
  •        EIIR Coronation Medal
  •        Centennial Medal
  •        Silver Jubilee Medal

His impact extended beyond his years of service. In August of 1993, Lieutenant General Carr was invested as Honorary Colonel of 412 (VIP) Squadron, and the Royal Canadian Air Force instituted the Carr Award in recognition of his role and impact on Canadian military aviation. In the Village at Griesbach, Alberta, a former military site, streets are named after eight veteran airmen with connections to the region, of which LGen Carr is one. In 2001, at a ceremony held in Ottawa, Ontario, he was also inducted as a Member of Canada's Aviation Hall of Fame.

Lieutenant-General William Carr is predeceased by son David and wife Elaine, and he leaves behind daughter Virginia (Baldwin), and son Peter, along with their families. Our thoughts are with them in this difficult time.

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