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Restoring the Honour

Recent surveys have shown overwhelming support for the Honorable Peter Mackay’s decision as Minister of National Defence to restore the historic Royal Canadian Navy, Royal Canadian Air Force and Canadian Army designations. Congratulations are due to the Government of Canada and the Canadian Senate for their support of this wise decision.

It has taken a long time to restore the full names to the distinct services of the navy, army and air force. Since the individual forces in 1968 were amalgamated and all servicemen and women dressed in green uniforms that lacked even the traditional shoulder flashes of individual units, gradually distinctive uniforms were re-introduced, rank designations restored to the navy, and many long-standing traditions again recognized. This was necessary to restore esprit de corps to the military, lost as a result of  amalgamation.

In July, 1984, as a reporter with the Kingston Whig-Standard I attended the 60th birthday reunion of the Royal Canadian Air Force held at Canadian Forces Base, Trenton. Airmen and retired airmen from coast-to-coast attended the reunion to recall the spirit, history and traditions of the RCAF although, at that time, the air force no longer had a tangible existence.

Former Squadron Leader “Gibby” Gibson said he felt so strongly about the demise of the RCAF that he had left the service for the Department of External Affairs.

“In one sense the RCAF died in 1968 and yet it didn’t really because it will never die in spirit. I feel it might even return,” he predicted. “After all, (former defence minister Paul) Hellyer said everyone in the world would copy our unification design but nobody did – not even the Egyptians!”

“It was a very bad day for Canada when they disbanded the RCAF, although the air force of today is just as fine as ever but they need the blue uniforms and the old name,” he said.

Ted Yeager, who retired as a Chief Warrant Officer in September, 1974, and who held the rank of Flying Officer during the Second World War, had nostalgic memories of the “good old days” when the parade ground was hallowed ground.

“Now it is used as a parking lot,” he said in the soul-shrivelling voice of a parade ground Chief Warrant Officer.

Another Warrant Officer, Everett “Red” MacLean, who was still serving at the time of the 60th birthday reunion, arrived in his former RCAF uniform. He said he preferred it to the green uniform that he wore daily.

“It’s a different air force today, but I hope the RCAF will be restored before I finish my service in another five years. I want to be discharged in blue.”

W.O. Maclean was to see the restoration of the blue uniform to the air force but had been long retired before the proud Royal Canadian Air Force name was restored.

The web page Restore the Honour! found at shows the strong support given to the campaign to return to traditional names.

Filed Under: Alan R CaponUncategorized

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