Seeing numerous monuments to those who made the ultimate sacrifice in combat during war, a local group decided what was missing was a plaque honouring those who died before they ever saw a battle.
Jim Thoreson, president of the Central Alberta Search and Rescue Association, is spearheading a campaign to get a plaque together to honour people who were killed while training out of the Penhold Base at Springbrook, later CFB Penhold.
“The pilots and their crew who were shot down overseas get lots of recognition, but nobody says anything about the people who were killed over here training,” said Thoreson.
The idea had its roots in 2008 when Thoreson and a group were search and rescue training when one person was killed. Out of that, Thoreson got the ball rolling to construct some sort of tribute.
He hopes to get as many names together as possible and put them on a plaque to go at the base of the Harvard aircraft that is on display in front of the Red Deer Regional Airport.
Thoreson sat down with the Red Deer flying club, the Royal Canadian Airforce association, Harvard Historical aviation society and the Central Alberta Search and Rescue Association and started collaborating on the project.
“We’re researching all the names we can find of people who died while training here,” said Thoreson.
The plaque is intended to honour more than just those training during wars as the group is looking into people who also died during the North Atlantic Treaty Organization years.
So far they have about 35 names for the plaque and Thoreson said it wasn’t an infrequent occurrence for a person to die while training.
They have the names of people who died during the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan days, but there are gaps in the NATO days.
“We’re not finding records like we did,” said Thoreson, adding the have maybe 10 or 12 names from the NATO timeframe.
The hope is to fill out the gaps in the names and deaths during training before the plaque is completed. Thoreson hopes people will come forward with information or recollections of deaths that occurred during training based out of Penhold.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Thoreson at 403-346-6731 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.