Photo: John Chalmers

The world operates on volunteer power.

Nearly all the wonderful things that make living in your home town not only bearable, but worthwhile and enjoyable – the music festivals, the kids hockey tournaments, the botanical gardens, the air shows, the theatre groups, the museums – are created and operated by volunteers – ordinary citizens like you and me who find, in their hearts and schedules, the time to make things happen that would not otherwise take place. These great things in our community – the cultural events, colourful tributes, communal places and neighbourhood welcomes are no longer deemed essential and are therefore no longer funded by governments at the municipal, provincial or federal levels. If it's good for our communities, if it is the right thing to do, then it is up to us and only us to ensure that it gets done.

The guys parking cars at an air show, the couple organizing a soccer tournament or the young kids serving up meals to other volunteers at a major music festival – they all understand this. However, most Canadians do no volunteering whatsoever and are free to “comment” on the experience of a festival or a tournament, offering up their wisdom to friends and the public on Facebook or the Twitterverse about how they didn't like this or that, or worse, how they would have done it differently and better.
Their “advice” is always critical and never would they even consider to step up to the plate and put their time and ideas to good use, actually helping.

Thank God some people do.

Whenever the hard work of volunteers is honoured, applauded or, better yet, rewarded, then the balance is struck and their glory proclaimed. Whenever this happens, I always get the sense that things are right with the world. One thing I do know is that the true volunteer is one who would do his or her work quietly and continuously and never once worry about getting a reward for it. For the true volunteer, the goal is the reward.

This year, as part of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, 60,000 Canadians will be honoured for their commitment, service and contributions to Canada with the “QJM” - The Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal. This may seem like a lot of Canadians, but in a country of more than 34 million, this translates to approximately one in 575 Canadians.
The Queen's Jubilee Medal program from the Governor General of Canada is bestowed upon nominees who have made a significant contribution to a particular province, territory, region or community within Canada, or an achievement abroad that brings credit to Canada. This applies to many more Canadians than just 60,000, so those who did receive this prestigious honour were not only nominated but chosen amongst many others.

A couple of weeks ago on August 18th, 2012, in a somewhat quiet ceremony at the Bomber Command Museum of Canada (BCMC), Toronto's Senator Anne C. Cools bestowed upon five key volunteers at the Museum, the honour of which I speak. The ceremony was the closing event in a much larger media event surrounding the arrival of the Calgary Mosquito Society's “Mossie” at the BCMC where it will begin years of careful restoration. By the time the Jubilee Medals were presented, the mainstream media had all beat feet for Calgary to file their stories about the sometimes controversial Mosquito's new home. Vintage Wings of Canada heard about this and thought the world should know of the honours and of the great museum located in Nanton, Alberta.

The Calgary Mosquito, a British-built example (S/N RS700, civil registration CF-HMS), arrives and is craned from a flatbed on its custom dolly. The Calgary Mosquito Society states: “Our plan is to preserve this important piece of Canadian peacetime aviation history, owned by the City of Calgary, restore it to static condition as it was when operated by Spartan Air Services in the 1950s and to create materials that will educate the public on the Mosquito aircraft and the role aviation has played on the exploration of Canada.”
Photo by Karl Kjarsgaard

The wings are carefully hoisted from the flatbed. Photo by Karl Kjarsgaard

Cools, a long time supporter of the good work done by the BCMC, took it upon herself to nominate volunteers David Birrell, Bob Evans, Dan Fox, Karl Kjarsgaard and John Phillips for the exceptional work they have done on behalf of the team at the Museum. For their commitment and service to the memory of Canadian Bomber Command aircrew, these fine gentlemen were given a fitting tribute - The Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.

Senator Cools' press release for the ceremony states:

OTTAWA – On Friday, August 17, and Saturday, August 18, 2012, Senator Anne Cools will attend this year’s memorial event at Bomber Command Museum of Canada in Nanton, Alberta. This event, called
Meet Calgary’s Mosquito, will feature a historic World War II Mosquito bomber aircraft.

On Saturday, August 18, Senator Cools will recognize some of this museum’s volunteers for their devoted service to the museum, which originated in the 1961 Nanton acquisition of a surplus Lancaster bomber. From this, the museum developed into, and became a living tribute to R.A.F. Bomber Command, the Royal Canadian Air Force, and Canada’s men who fought from the air in World War II.

On June 28, Senator Cools, and the Bomber Command Museum of Canada’s delegation, attended Queen Elizabeth’s unveiling of the Bomber Command Memorial, in London, U.K. This Memorial includes aluminium, salvaged from the downed Halifax bomber LW682, and given by the museum to build the memorial’s ceiling. This now stands in memory of the efforts and sacrifices of all those airmen who served in bomber operations during World War II. This Memorial upholds the 55,573 fallen airmen, of whom 10,659 were Canadians. This Memorial honours the valour, courage and sacrifice of the many in Bomber Command who answered the call of duty and who forfeited their lives. Canada stands proudly by them. Lest we forget.

Vintage Wings of Canada would like to stand with Senator Cools to offer our hearty congratulations, not just to these fine gentlemen, but to all of the fine volunteers and supporters of the Bomber Command Museum of Canada who have made it one of the finest museums, not only in Canada, but throughout the world. These are the people who have given our veterans a lasting tribute and all of us a place to learn about their sacrifice.

In front of the Calgary Mosquito, Senator Anne C. Cools (right) stands and delivers a worthy tribute to five gentlemen whose efforts stand for the excellence that is widely embraced at the Bomber Command Museum of Canada. Photo by Doug Bowman via BCMC

The five honourees are, from left to right, Karl Kjarsgaard, David Birrell, John Phillips, Dan Fox and Bob Evans Photo by Doug Bowman via BCMC

A little about the five who received the Queen's Jubilee Medal.

David Birrell, a retired geophysicist and school teacher, was one of the original founders of the Bomber Command Museum of Canada over 40 years ago. He has held various executive positions at the museum, primarily as treasurer and has masterminded the museum's audio-visual displays, while compiling a vast repository of Bomber Command research data and building up the museum's library. Dave is also an accomplished historical author. His latest book is Big Joe McCarthy, a story about the lone American on the Dam Busters Raid.

Bob Evans, a long time Curator and Director of the Museum, has, for many years, spearheaded the recovery of Second World War aircraft from all over Canada. Bob has been a keen negotiator and broker of rare aircraft and parts for restoration of many of the aircraft in the Bomber Command Museum of Canada collection.

Dan Fox is a retired youth corrections camp director and teacher who was a founder and a long-time past-President of the Museum during its formative years. He is presently a Director on the Board of the Museum, and is quick to volunteer as leader for many Museum projects, events and activities.

Karl Kjarsgaard is a retired wide-body, transcontinental airline pilot, and is presently a Director of the Museum. As a dedicated Second World War aircraft recovery specialist, Karl has participated in 3 Handley Page Halifax bomber recoveries and other Bomber Command Museum of Canada recovery projects. He is presently working on the planning of a special deep-water Halifax bomber expedition and recovery from the Irish Sea for the Nanton Museum along with other Halifax parts acquisition “sorties”.

John Phillips is a professional pilot, aeronautical engineer on fixed- and rotary-winged aircraft and a long-time Director of the Bomber Command Museum of Canada. John is one of the chief engineers and masterminds of the Nanton Lancaster bomber rebuild at the museum which, under his supervision, has had much success.

Awards and medals are, in many ways, like battle honours, worthy of adorning the crew's Lanc. Photo John Chalmers, Photoshop work, Dave O'Malley

Oh, and by the way!

Vintage Wings of Canada has its own QJM. Thanks to his nomination by the Air Force Association of Canada's Terry Chester, our founder and fellow warbird pilot, Michael U. Potter, also received The Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.  It appears that the folks who are instrumental in keeping alive our aviation heritage have been truly and well recognized. Canada's government is getting this very right. There is no Canadian more deserving of this award than Mike. When last I spoke with the BCMC's Karl Kjarsgaard, he said: “The next time you talk to Mike Potter tell him "Well done" and a very deserved DJM award for all he has done!” Consider it done Karl.

Dave O'Malley

Our founder, Mike Potter. Photo by Peter Handley


The complete Warbird U Calendar for 2012
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