June 16, 2019 1:44 pm
Updated: June 16, 2019 1:57 pm

Winnipeg Second World War veteran awarded legion of honour medal on 100th birthday

WATCH: A Winnipeg World War II veteran has been awarded France's highest honour among former military personal. Marek Tkach reports.

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Ian Wilson who resides at Deer Lodge Centre in Winnipeg was awarded France’s highest honour for military personnel.

While Wilson doesn’t officially turn 100 until June 17th, his family chose to celebrate both occasions together.

“To have this medal to be given to somebody that has permitted my family and all the French people to be here today is something that really does touch you, and touch you strongly,” says Bruno Burnichon of the French Consulate, based in Winnipeg.

Bruno Burnichon of the French consulate based in Winnipeg.

Marek Tkach / Global News

Burnichon placed the medal on Wilson and said over 40 Manitobans have received the award from the French government.

READ MORE: Pallister gives up D-Day ceremony seat to veteran MLA

The medal is awarded to veterans who were on the ground, at sea, or in the air between D-Day and the liberation of Paris 50 days later.

Wilson enlisted in the Canadian Air Force in 1941. His wife Betty was drafted to the Royal Air Force in England one year later at the age of 19.

READ MORE: Remembering D-Day: These brave Canadians saw the action

“To move from London, England to a non-electrified home south of Virden, they had to be strong. They’ve lived there for a number of years then they finally moved to Winnipeg and raised two daughters,” says Wilson’s son-in-law Denis Rochon.

Ian and Betty Wilson looking at a collection of photos and recognition letters the couple has received over the years.

Marek Tkach / Global News

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Wilson’s air squadron landed near Normandy, France, three days after D-Day.

“His job was to maintain the machine guns on the spitfires so he would repair and replace and make sure they were operational while making sure there was enough ammunition,” said Rochon.

READ MORE: How young we were: 75 years after Juno Beach, Canadian D-Day veterans remember the battle

Wilson’s wife Betty applauded as her husband received the medal along with letters of recognition from other levels of government.

Ian and Betty are one of Canada’s only married Second World War veteran couples remaining.

Betty says Ian’s tolerance is her favourite quality about him.

“Well, his tolerance. I blow my lid once in a while and I look at those blue eyes and he’s tolerant and I mean, what more could you ask for?” she said.

WATCH: Calgary D-Day veteran shares her story of keeping ‘the biggest secret ever’

 

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