Russ Hudson feels a strong connection with veterans of the Second World War and, after serving in the military for 29 years, now helps to keep the memory the sacrifices of men and women in armed conflict alive. (Submitted)

A legacy of service

Veteran finds a kindred spirit in Spitfire pilot

Russ Hudson was conceived in 1945 when his father came home on leave in the latter days of the war. The father he never knew flew a Spitfire and survived the war but was sent back to Britain for OPU training. His aircraft was lost over the English Channel in 1946; the plane and pilot’s remains were never recovered.

Hudson grew up hearing stories about his father and the service others in his family gave to their country and for the cause of freedom.

“My uncle Russ was in the Royal Engineers during the war and my uncle Garth flew 37 missions in a Lancaster Bomber as a tail gunner,” said Hudson. “I guess the Armed Forces were in my blood, especially the Air Force. I’ve been around airplanes my whole life and I know that I was influenced by the sacrifices made by my father and uncles.”

Hudson joined the Air Force in 1963, and although he never became a pilot, he served in Canada and Europe for 29 years–a service in which he takes a great deal of pride. That’s why, when Hudson met Alex Uydens, something clicked. Like Hudson’s father, Uydens served in WWII as a Spitfire pilot.

“I feel so privileged to know Alex. His experiences are so like my father’s and I know that I need to do whatever I can to honour him and to be his friend,” said Hudson.

Alex Uydens story (featured in this publication) mirrored Hudson’s father’s life in many ways, and Hudson now feels a responsibility to provide companionship and support for his new friend.

“He’s all alone now. His wife died about four years ago and he has no other family around to support him,” said Hudson.

“This is a man who risked his life for us and I don’t think it’s right for him to be alone. I’m going to do everything I can to be a friend to him for however long he has left.”

Hudson is a member of the Flight Crew Association and has been active with the Aviation Museum. He was part of the move to bring one of the last Lancaster bombers to the Museum and will be part of the effort to restore that aircraft.

“It’s important that we remember and I was happy to help with the Lancaster. But getting to know Alex and helping to honour him through my friendship is even more important. We need to remember the past and never forget.”



c.vanreeuwyk@blackpress.ca

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