ROYAL CANADIAN AIRFORCE
CANADIAN ARMED FORCES
FIRE / CRASH RESCUE DEPARTMENT
It was in the early fifties when the yellow planes began flying over the small town where I lived. It was a small farming community town located in central Manitoba west of Lake Manitoba. The town was named Langruth after the founders, Mr Langdon and Mr. Ruth. I guess I was about 15 or 16. The Airmen who came to town were dressed in their blue serge uniforms, wearing the wedgie cap with a gold colored bird badge. They sure looked smart. I think it was in the back of my mind then that it was the RCAF that I wanted to join. It was around this time also that I saw my first jet aircraft. I found out later that it was a T-33 Silver Star. The Korean conflict was in full swing. My cousin Jim had joined the Navy and even as I watched these airplanes and airmen, was somewhere in the Pacific on a destroyer.
One summer the Airbase south of town held an airshow. Mom and Dad took me. At the gate they handed out pamphlets. Printed on one corner were numbers. Throughout the day they called numbers out and if you were one of the lucky ones you got to take a ride in a DC-3 Dakota. I was one of the lucky ones. My first ride in an RCAF airplane. That ride sure made my day and forever set in my mind the desire to join the RCAF.
Here I learned to march and found my left from my right. We marched, left turn, right turn, about face, right incline, left incline, close order...and on and on....but it wasn't all marching. We had classroom activities to attend also. We were taught history of the RCAF, etiquette, hygiene and first aid. There was also the gymnasium were physical fitness was taught to us by men who I am sure were into masochism. We were also shown how to handle firearms, in particular a rifle and a sten gun. I was to learn later that all ground crew personnel had "ground defense training". Another battery of tests, visits to the dentist, needles, needles and more needles. I saw more than one man passout on "getting their needle(s)" and a few who never made it to "their turn". One of the worst was the TABTD. This one was a real bummer. Initially it did not hurt but as the hours passed ALL your nerve endings seemed to locate at an area centered around were you were injected. It was funny to see men and women turning sideways whenever meeting someone so that their extremely sore arm would not get bumped. Then of course there were those who suffered only a minor inconvenience...unfortunately I was not one of them.
Then one day I was called to the Personnel Office. Now I would find out what I was best suited for based on the tests I had taken. Well here it is I thought. The Officer read out my choices, " Mobile Service Equipment ", " Food Services " and " Fire Fighting ". To say I was a little dissapointed would be an understatement given what the Squadron Leader had told me. Wellll lets see...as a an MSE Operator I would learn to drive everything from a car to a snowplow. As an FSA I would assist in preparing meals ( pealing potatoes....yuccchh ). Only Fire Fighting left. Of the three choices I had Fire Fighting seemed to me to be the most exciting, and that was what I selected.
On completion of Basic Training we had a Wings Parade. We marched to a band, were handed our Graduation Diplomas and were now Aircraftsmen in the Royal Canadian Air Force. .
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