Canadian Air Force veterans honoured with monument in Griesbach

WATCH ABOVE: Royal Canadian Air Force Week has been filled with celebrations honouring Edmonton's rich aviation history. As Lisa Wolansky tells us, the culmination of activities wrapped up with a permanent tribute to Alberta aviators.

EDMONTON — Eight Royal Canadian Air Force veterans were honoured Sunday during a ceremony at the Village at Griesbach, a former military site in north Edmonton.

Lieutenant Governor Lois Mitchell was on hand to unveil the Ad Astra monument, which honours the historic links between Edmonton and Canada’s Air Force.

“We can all be thankful that our Canadian heroes found the courage, the tenacity and the strength to make it through the challenges of the second world war and the many battles before and since,” said Mitchell.

Meaning “to the stars,” Ad Astra is a 10-metre tall stainless steel sculpture. It represents a “star burst,” which is an aerobatic maneuver.

“If you stand underneath that monument and you look up, you can imagine anything, whether you’re in the military or not,” said Brigadier-General Bill Buckham with the RCAF Commemorative Society. “It should stimulate your imagination, your dreams and hopefully the desire to learn and to excel.”

Story continues below advertisement

Buckham, who spent 36 years in the Air Force, was part of the volunteer team that spent the past five years designing the monument.

“As Air Force, we said we have to have something to look up to and I think you can look up to this.”

Also Sunday, the names of eight streets in the Village of Griesbach were renamed after eight Air Force veterans. Among those getting the honour was Bob Morgan, who spent 36 years as an Air Force pilot.

“It’s a great honour but it still hasn’t sunk in yet why I should get it,” said a very humble Morgan.

“When they first told me, when they said they were naming a street after me, I thought it would be a back alley or dead end street,” he added with a laugh.

READ MORE: Edmonton honouring Royal Canadian Air Force

While stationed in France in 1955, Morgan rescued a pilot from a burning plane that crashed. He broke the canopy and pulled the unconscious pilot to safety. While his memory of the ordeal is faint, Morgan was given the George Medal for bravery.

“Anybody would have done it. You don’t think, it’s just automatic.”

Story continues below advertisement

Sunday’s ceremony was part of Royal Canadian Air Force Week, which was declared by the City of Edmonton last Monday.