TV, radio and news- newspapers and many organizations have pre sented me with a podium to constantly tell of the vast Can-adian connection to the US military dating back to Civil War days and even earlier. Local archives and libraries, and of course the Victoria Genealogical Society, the CFB Esquimalt newspaper... the Lookout and the Black Press Media Group have been strong supporters on my work for years.
One of the key podiums has also been Bell Media's local all news and talk radio station, CFAX, one of the 3 largest stations in the greater Victoria area.
Over the years I have been interviewed on air by CFAX several times. Earlier this month I had the privilege of appearing on 3 consecutive Tuesdays for about 20 minutes with popular host Mark Brennae.
The first covered some of the Canadian MOH recipients and major sea battles. The second discussed a few land battles. The third dealt with recipients and others from Civil War days and later and their connections to Victoria BC.
In these broadcasts, mention was given to the first shots at Fort Sumter (12 April 1861), the battle between the Monitor and the Merrimack (8 Mar 1862), Gettysburg (1-3 July 1863), the Battle of Vicksburg the next day, and Wounded Knee (29 Dec.1890). The heroism of several Canadians involved in these deeds also received brief mention.
If you go to this URL...
you should see this image...
The Medal of Honor selected by the radio station, is an image of the current US Army Medal of Honor. (A Civil War MOH is pictured at upper left)
The Army's has had major changes adopted and a new suspension ribbon, the same now appearing on all 3 types. The navy medal is almost exactly like those of Civil War days, less the fowling on the anchor shaft.
The air force's current medal was first introduced in 1967. But earlier medals to that branch were of the old army type. The first (old type) medal to the force was awarded to famed air ace Eddie Rickenbacker in 1918.
Moving along, about a month ago I and a friend where sitting at a snack bar within the local Costco store. I was wearing one of the T shirts I have that I got while attending the most formal commissioning of the US Coast Guard's latest warship... the powerful USCGC Munro at Seattle, and destined for service based out of California. It will presumably see the current Cutter Munro, based in Alaska, coming out of service in the years to come.
The new cutter, and the old and an earlier navy ship also carrying the name of Munro, are all vessels named after the Guadalcanal posthumous Medal of Honor recipient Douglas Munro, who lost his life while saving the lives of some 500 sailors and marines on Sept 27, 1942.
Douglas Munro was born in Vancouver BC, and remains to this day being the only serving coast guard member to be awarded the MOH. Another medal went to a fellow who was in the army... but many years earlier was also, most briefly, in the coast guard. His story can be read here by searching under his nickname... the snake.
But back to Cosco... sitting in the snack bar area I got talking to a man and woman from the US. He was wearing a cap with veterans' flashes on it and so, naturally we got to taking about Munro and soon developed a friendship. He was a retired US Colonel, and has a son who also served his country in the military. The Colonel and his wife became quite interested in learning of my work, and conversations led to several coffee meets over the next 3 weeks till he headed off again. In the last week, his son and wife joined up with parents for a Canadian visit.
In the 2nd last week of their visit I arranged a visit for the father to meet with volunteer historian Sherry Robinson. She is one of the keepers of the vast holdings of Esquimalt Township's archives and treasure trove of history dating back probably 200 years if not more.
In their last week in Victoria, I also took both men to an equally impressive visit to the Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt's own archives and also then we visited the Air Museum out at our international airport. Both fellows, who I will call Joe's, have pilot's licenses and were most eager to see the displays there.
While I do not know much about airplanes, the Joes seemed to have had a great time there!
But this caught my eye... and I don't mean because of the ferocious guard cat.
But it's what is behind that's significant. I believe this is one of the earliest Trans-Canada Airlines planes from Malton (Toronto) Ontario. Trans-Canada became Air Canada many years later.
The reason this excited me is because of a story my late father told me as a child. He said that his older brother... the late Jack Armstrong was a tailor in Toronto. And it was he that Trans-Canada hired to make the very first uniforms the nurses, hired as stewardess's, would wear.
If so, it was a thrill to see it, and thought how sad my late father could not have been with me that day... and so many others.
Above obviously is C and the very plane, one of only 2 of its kind still flying, that was used in the cross Canada celebration for Air Canada's 80th year celebration in 2017. Air Canada of course being the company that Trans Canada morphed into.
Another Lockeed ELectra, similar to the one above but with more powerful engines, attempted a world wide flight back in 1937. You may remember the story.
It was flown by Amelia Earhart!
Moving along, I then took the 2 Joes back into the city downtown area to see the recently unveiled BC Afghanistan Memorial. Below we see father and son and the most impressive yet sad, reminder of one of the aspects of Canada's commitment to the War on Terror.
The first was of course was the 2 plane attack at the World Trade Center in Manhattan New York. This followed with the attack against the military at the Pentagon in Arlington County Virginia. The third being the plane crash resulting from passengers trying to take the plane over from high-jackers, and subsequently crashing into a field at Shanksville Pa.
Many have a most interesting view that the rushed investigation was suspect and that the "attackers" where not who officialdom declares as being the offenders. But that's another story for another day.
About 3,000 deaths occurred that day, including 24 Canadians. Some 6,000 more were injured. Recent stats say that about 10,000 since 9-11 have been detected having cancer. About 450 if not more firefighters and police officers were or are from withing the 10,000.
When the US declared the War on Terroism, Canada was one of the first allies to step up and send land, air and sea troops as well as civilian diplomatic and intelligence resources to Afghanistan in 2001.
It would see about 40,000 Canadians during tours spread over a 14 yr period in the longest war that Canada ever fought in. One hundred and sixty five would pay with their lives. Seven of these were civilians.
I would encourage you to turn on your speakers.... after finishing reading this blog... and going to...
and listen to US Army Sergeant Christiana Ball singing the very emotional song... All Gave Some, and Some Gave all.
Looking closely at the image above you can see sand around the base of the memorial. When lowered into place it landed on several boards almost the size of railway ties. Then sand bags were placed around the edges, the memorial raised slightly, the boards pulled out and then lowered onto the bags and then they pulled out the lowering straps.
Then the very talented workers slowly pin holed the bags and using a compressor slowly blew the escaping sand out from underneath. They constantly checked to ensure it was being lowered level and ultimately finding it's final resting place. A most interesting process to watch.
This above image is of an Afghanistan child greeting a Canadian soldier... Cpl Michael McCauley as he patrolled through one of the streets of Panjwall Village in the province of Kandahar in July 2007. It is this image that is depicted on the memorial shown above.
Two years ago, almost to the day, on September 30th a very formal ceremony was held to unveil the new memorial. It was attended by several Generals, a former Minister of Veterans Affairs, politicians, the ambassador to Canada from Afghanistan and even our own BC Lt Governor of the day, the Honorable Judith Guichon.
Several hundred soldiers, sailors and airmen and cadets participated as well as a very large contingent of veterans of the war. Special guests were family and friends of several of those who gave their all in the war. And of course the very group of dedicated soles who got together to do all of the massive tasks to bring this memorial to life.
After the formal speeches were made by all...including the very Cpl... depicted on the memorial... but now a Lt, all gathered were invited to place their poppies on the monument.
Michelle was born in Vancouver BC in 1975. For years she had been working as a journalist and in 2009 was working for the Calgary Herald when sent on a 6 week assignment to cover the war in Afghanistan.
On the 2nd last day of the year, and while attached to the International Security Assistance Force in Kandahar province, that she and four other Canadians were killed when their carrier struck a hidden roadside bomb.
She was just 34 years old and engaged to be married the following July. In giving her life for Canada and the world, she became Canada's first and only journalist to be killed in the war. The last story she sent home to be published was about another Canadian soldier to die. His name was Lieutenant Andrew Nuttall, formerly of Victoria BC.
Andrew was with an Afghan soldier also killed as well as an interpreter whom was badly injured, when all were struck by an improvised explosive device.
Note both are wearing the Memorial (Silver) Cross on left side of their chests.
Tomorrow I shall return with the 2nd part of today's blog, and on Sunday I will be back with some interesting updates.
In the mean time, as you can imagine, I spend a lot of time putting together these blogs. If you like them please pass them on to your like minded friends. If not pass them along anyway. hehe
I enjoy getting feedback, so please offer same, tell me your likes and dislikes and where change is needed I shall try to accommodate you.
Again reach out to the females that you know and remind them, or yourselves, that this is the month that we must all honor the women in our lives. Enjoy and respect that it is Women's History Month again this year.
For the American readers you celebrate the month in March, but now you can also celebrate it in October. Just tell them that Bart said so. And if they say they have never heard of me... you will have a great chance to tell them about this site. hehe
see you tomorrow...