Judith Guichon, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia, is approaching the end of her five-year term, but she could not pass up one last visit to Legion Manor on East Saanich Road.
The vice-regal representative stopped by during lunch on Saturday and shook hands with residents while they dined, including one 95-year old veteran who will soon receive another medal in recognition of his service.
Kenneth Brind was pleased to see Guichon again; they first met at a Vancouver Island Aircrew Association event, and Guichon recalled a previous lunch they had together in her remarks to residents. Brind, a navigator on a Lancaster bomber, will be receiving the Legion of Honour medal from the French government to recognize his role in the Second World War.
When asked how felt when he learned of the award, he said simply, “I’m very pleased, of course.”
Brind, born in Aldbourne, England, was 21 when he served. His fellow aircrew, who had been training together for six months, was shot down over Berlin and killed two days before Christmas in 1943. Brind was not on board because he was in the hospital recovering from surgery. He joined a new air crew and flew 30 bombing runs in 1944 over German troops and industrial operations in Nazi-occupied France. Brind is thankful they never faced enemy fighter planes, but they did face anti-aircraft fire from the ground. During one such run their rear gunner was wounded and they had to make an emergency landing.
After the war ended, he worked at NORAD, monitoring incoming aircraft and scrambling fighter jets when necessary. After retiring from the Royal Canadian Air Force with the rank of captain in 1968, he worked with the federal government and the Alberta government before becoming a management consultant.
He moved into Legion manor in February of this year, and he has five children with his wife, Mary, who died in 2015. There are also nine grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren (with another due before Christmas). He was an avid golfer until he was 92, when back pain sidelined him. Surrounded by family photos and a hockey game on the television, he summed it up: “I’ve lived a pretty full life.”
France is the fourth country to recognize Brind for his service during the war, the others being England, Belgium and Canada. The medal will be formally presented to him by a representative of the French government in mid-December.