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Every day, there are many reasons to celebrate, honour and commemorate our military members. Recently, there was an opportunity to pay special recognition to those members who wear light blue as part of the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF).
On June 4, 2019, Senator Joseph Day and the Royal Canadian Air Force Association of Canada (RCAFA) hosted Air Force Day on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa, Ont. This annual event — this year was the 13th — is a unique opportunity for senators and members of parliament to publicly recognize Canada’s aviators for their exemplary service and immense sacrifices.
“These talented and dedicated men and women provide the Canadian Armed Forces with the air and space power we need to meet the defence challenges of today and into the future,” said MGen Blaise Frawley, deputy commander of the RCAF. “They are great Canadians with impressive achievements in aviation. Anchoring all our activities and achievements — and much more — are our people. They are the lifeblood of our units and, with their families, central to our mission success.
“Thank you, to all my fellow aviators here today, for representing our colleagues at home and around the world, for your stellar service. I am very proud of you.”
This year’s event also commemorated the 75th anniversary of D-Day. On June 6, 1944, Allied forces launched the largest military invasion in history on the beaches of Normandy, in France. Some 1,000 Canadian aircraft were in the air on D-Day and 54,000 RCAF members from 39 squadrons. The successful invasion marked the turning point of the Second World War.
D-Day veterans Bob Bradley and Ronald Moyes, special attendees of Air Force Day on the hill, both served with Bomber Command. Mid-upper gunner Bob Bradley completed 30 missions with 576 Squadron (Royal Air Force) and returned to Canada before his 19th birthday. He is also a founding member of 429 RCAFA Wing in St. Thomas, Ont., having joined the association in 1948. Air gunner Ronald Moyes completed 30 missions with 405 and 429 Squadrons (RCAF). He worked briefly in private industry after the war, then reenlisted in 1946 and stayed until his retirement in 1974, after which he joined the Royal Canadian Mounted Police as a firearm technician at the Forensic Crime Labs in Ottawa.
Dean Black, from the RCAFA, spoke during the event about the special honour of having Bradley and Moyes in attendance. “We are extremely appreciative,” he said, “of their service, dedication and sacrifice.”
This was Senator Day’s last year hosting the event before his retirement. To thank him for his continued support, Frawley and Black presented him with a new “Veteran Coin” created by CANEX (a division under the Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare Services). The coin bears a three-dimensional sculpted image of veterans, and was designed to mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day.
In 2012, Bradley and Moyes were among the Canadian veterans who attended the unveiling by Queen Elizabeth of the Bomber Command Memorial in London, England. The Memorial commemorates the people of all Allied nations who lost their lives in the bombing campaigns of 1939-1945. One third of Bomber Command aircrew were Canadians, and about 10,000 Canadians lost their lives.
We are grateful to all aviators who were and are part of this proud RCAF legacy.