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Commentary: Honouring the sergeant on an Innisfail street light

Royal Canadian Air Force sergeant one of 20 veterans honoured in Innisfail legion’s inaugural Veterans Banner Project

As I settle in as a working senior citizen my best memories of my late father, Sgt. John Bachusky, have become more confined to when I was a toddler growing up on Royal Canadian Air Force bases in the Martimes.

We were based in either Nova Scotia or Newfoundland and Labrador. He was a sergeant in the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) who began his career in the Second World War training to be a military firefighter at RCAF Station Fort Macleod.

For me, it was on these eastern Canadian bases when the sergeant seemed to be larger than life.

I have faint memories of him being frequently away on assignment to another part of the country and even overseas.

And because of this, any time I was with him the moment was always special.

There are three memories that stand out.

I remember an afternoon with him at a circus at CFB Greenwood when I was a toddler; cradled between his legs as we rode a kids’ roller-coaster.

There was a late-night visit by him when I was in a St. John’s, Nfld. hospital after he returned from an out-of-town assignment. He brought me ice cream.

Best of all was the time he took me to the east coast to throw rocks in the ocean. I was thrilled to learn how to skip rocks and watch them bounce over the water.

Sgt. John Bachusky spent 25 years serving his country from 1944 to 1969. He never made it past the rank of sergeant, and while that may have been a disappointment his immense pride to serve his county never wavered.

His service inspired both my older brothers to join the military; my oldest brother Wayne was an air force officer before becoming an accomplished environmental engineer. My late brother Ted served with the Governor General's Foot Guards, a senior reserve infantry regiment in Ottawa, before becoming a beloved teacher in Guelph, Ont.

As for me, the baby of the family, my father signed me up in the Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa, an army reserve infantry regiment, but I had other ideas when I was 16; pursuing the wonders of the road and a temporary wild post-Woodstock lifestyle.

My father also became a trained writer with the air force. His wayward youngest son also became a scribbler. The sergeant, who passed away in 1997, reluctantly became proud of that.

We may have had a complicated relationship but I am proud of him today. Military life is never easy for any man or woman.

This year Royal Canadian Legion Branch #104 in Innisfail launched its Veterans Banner Project.

The intent is to display veteran banners to coincide with the Poppy Campaign that begins the last Friday in October and ending Nov. 11.

Banners will proudly fly high from street lights on Main Street for 20 cherished veterans, including my father.

These veterans are heroes.

Sgt. John Bachusky is one of them.

Johnnie Bachusky is an editor with the Albertan.

Johnnie Bachusky

About the Author: Johnnie Bachusky

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