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