9 Wing Gander’s honorary colonel passes away

The Royal Canadian Air Force lost a member of its extended family with the death of Honorary Col Fred Moffitt on January 17, 2017.

Honorary Col Fred Moffitt salutes during a ceremony at 9 Wing Gander, N.L., in July 2014.
Honorary Col Fred Moffitt salutes during a ceremony at 9 Wing Gander, N.L., in July 2014. 9 Wing Gander Photo

“It is with great sadness that I inform you of the passing of our cherished friend, Honorary Col Fred Moffitt. He left us peacefully at 10:00 this morning, in St. John’s [Newfoundland and Labrador], after a long struggle to regain his health,” said the commander of 9 Wing, LCol Pierre Haché, in an email to 9 Wing personnel. “His wife Anne was by his side and mourns his departure.

“Please join me in mourning the passing of this great man and friend.”

Honorary Col Moffitt, 76, was serving as the honorary colonel of 9 Wing Gander, N.L., at the time of his passing. He was appointed to that position in December 2014, following completion of a four-year appointment as honorary colonel of 103 Search and Rescue Squadron in Gander.

His connections with the Air Force ran long and deep as he served in the Royal Air Force (RAF) during the Cold War, reaching the rank of flight lieutenant (which is equivalent to the RCAF rank of captain).

Fred Moffitt was born on Nov. 30, 1940, in Bedlington, England, and educated in the city of Newcastle upon Tyne in the northeast of England. His first foray into the work force was with the civil service, where he trained to be an income tax inspector. This proved to be “excruciatingly boring” (his words), and in 1962 he was commissioned in the Royal Air Force and began training as a flight navigator.

His first operational tour was on the Blackburn B-101 Beverley aircraft with 84 Squadron, stationed in the Aden Protectorate (now South Yemen). This tour included operations in Africa, the Persian Gulf, Singapore and Hong Kong.

In 1967, Moffitt returned to the United Kingdom with a posting to 511 Squadron, flying on the Bristol Type 175 Britannia transport aircraft out of Lyneham and Brize Norton.

After the RAF took the Britannia out of service, Moffitt was posted to a ground tour in at RAF Leuchars, a busy fighter base in Scotland, as the officer commanding the general duties flight (station adjutant). Although on a ground tour, he managed to get some back seat flying on the McDonnell-Douglas Phantom F4 fighter jet.

Returning to flying duties in 1976, he joined the Hercules fleet and saw service with 24 and 47 Squadrons as well as a four-year stint on the Hercules Training Squadron with the responsibility for the training, examination and categorization of navigators in the fleet.

After this lengthy spell of flying, Moffitt was back on the ground again as detachment commander for the RAF at in Gander, N.L. — a post he held from 1986 to 1989. He was responsible for the safe and expeditious transit of RAF aircraft through Gander and St. John’s. During this time he met his wife Anne Manning, a high school teacher and a thoroughbred Newfoundlander who was born and raised in Labrador City.

After 28 years of RAF service, he retired in 1990 and took up residence in Gander where he opened and co-owned the Jungle Jim’s restaurant. After 10 years in business, he retired again but that did not mean putting his feet up!


He served as chair of the Gander International Airport Authority from 2005 to 2014, during which time he was instrumental in assuring the continued well-being of the airport as a strategic asset of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. He also served as chair of the Employment Insurance Board of Referees.

Moffitt was appointed as honorary colonel of 103 Search and Rescue Squadron at 9 Wing Gander in 2010, serving until 2014. He was then appointed as honorary colonel of 9 Wing, holding the post until his death.

Honorary Col Moffitt was well-known throughout the Gander community and in the province at large. A naturalized citizen, he embraced the Canadian way life and made it his mission to work in every capacity possible to improve conditions for his fellow citizens and the Canadian Armed Forces. He loved life, played golf passionately and was a resolute fan of the Newcastle United Football Club and a member of the Gander Freemasons.

He is survived by his wife, two adult children living in England, and four grandchildren.

Moffitt’s military heritage and his close affiliation to 9 Wing Gander and its members were the hallmarks of his life. He will be remembered as a true gentleman, kind and always pleasant. Above all, he will be remembered as a most loving husband who was a true match for his wife Anne. Together, they formed an inseparable bond.

One thought on “9 Wing Gander’s honorary colonel passes away

  1. It is over 30 years since I last saw Fred who attended our wedding in 1984. In those days I was a young, impressionable navigator on 47 Sqn and Fred was an experienced, older hand who had the time to support and help me. He lived life to the full and was an extremely popular member of the Sqn due to his great personality and good humour. It is indeed a sad day to read of his passing and I extend my sincere condolences to his family and friends at this sad time – a lovely man.

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