Lacombian Ken Long, who served as a part of Canada’s Bomber Command in the Second World War, was one of seven members of the unit to be awarded with his Bomber Command Bar at a recent ceremony in Edmonton. Long said he was glad for the recognition even though it was long overdue.
“I was glad they recognized us finally,” said Long.
“Up until then the Air Force never got much recognition at all.”
Long said he first heard about the impending ceremony when he read about it in Legion Magazine. He said his feelings about the recognition, nearly 70 years after his service, were somewhat indifferent.
Long said that, while Air Force members were referred to as “The cream of the crop” during the war, they received little recognition after the war.
He added that members of the Bomber Command were branded as murderers by many members of the community because of the high civilian death toll from many Bomber Command missions.
As such, Long was glad to finally be receiving recognition, but disappointed that it had taken 70 years to happen.
Long went on to say that, while there may have been civilians killed in Bomber Command missions, both the Axis and Allies used bombers and there were high civilian deaths on both sides.
He added that he believes the Air Force and Bomber Command were essential parts of the war effort and if not for them, we might still be fighting the same war.
During the Second World War Long piloted a Handley Page Halifax III bomber. He said he knew he would have to serve in the war one way or another and decided to join the Air Force over the Army so that he wouldn’t have to walk.
On one mission, Long’s plane was damaged and three members of his crew were wounded but he managed to fly the Halifax home even with only two of the four engines running. His efforts even earned him a Distinguished Flying Medal.
In addition to his Distinguished Flying Medal and Bomber Command Bar, Long has also received 1939 45 Star, a European Star, a France-Germany Star and a Canadian Medal for his service.
However, Long said he never thought about getting recognition during his service. Instead, he was thinking about doing his job.
“You just figured you did your duty when you brought that plane back,” said Long. “You didn’t think too much except you were awful damn happy when you landed.”
The ceremony where Long and other members of Bomber Command were recognized took place at the Aviation Museum in Edmonton and bars were presented by Veteran Affairs Minister Julian Fantino and Member of Parliament for Edmonton Centre Laurie Hawn.
Long added the veterans who were recognized never had a chance to visit amongst themselves due to all the media attention at the ceremony, which Long said was a little too much for his liking.
“There was media everywhere,” said Long’s daughter, Noreen Selvais, who attended the ceremony with him.
Selvais said that she was proud to see her father recognized, especially after so many years. She added that, knowing her father served for her country during the Second World War is an incredible point of pride for her always.
“When O Canada comes on, I often cry,” said Selvais.
“There is a lot of pride.”
She added that it is important to remember the service veterans made during times of war and she doesn’t like to think what might have happened had their sacrifices not been made.
“It would have been horrible,” said Selvais.