Weekend to remember for the 101

Reason to celebrate as group marks milestones ahead of Battle of Britain commemoration.

PORT HARDY—The weekend of September 21-22 will be one to remember for members of the 101 Squadron.

After fifteen years of fundraising and community endeavours, members will put the final memorial cairn in place at the 1940 crash site of the Shark 517 in Haida Gwaii. The marker will complete one of the group’s founding goals: to place a memorial obelisk at the site of every military aviation fatality on the North Island since the Second World War. “Regardless of the cause of their death, each of those young men died serving Canada – patrolling our shores prepared to take on the enemy in whatever form it arrived,” explains the group’s website. “Their sacrifice might have been lost to time but their commitment to freedom makes them heroes in our eyes. For 101 Squadron it is truly an honour to leave a tribute to their courage for future generations.”

On the night of Sept. 21 the 101 Squadron will host its annual President’s Appreciation Dinner at Babe’s Pub, celebrating both the project’s completion and the group’s recognition at the national level.

The group was awarded the Air Force Association of Canada’s provincial and national Wing of the Year.

“Although 101(NI) Squadron is not a Wing, it is a very active squadron of 888 Wing and should be recognized on its own merits,” read the narrative of the nomination.

The group was formed in 1997 by a group of nine former military personnel and one civil aviator. A year later they were chartered by the AFAC, earning the 101 designation by being the association’s first squadron.

Aside from the cairns project, the group also supports local Air Cadet Squadrons and provides bursaries to high school students.

The group has also been hard at work raising funds for an updated cenotaph in Port Hardy’s Carrot Park. A portion of the funds raised at the annual dinner will go towards supporting that project.

“We’re looking at having that completed next year,” 101 member Russ Hellberg said.

The day after the dinner, the 101 will be back in an established role: the annual Battle of Britain commemoration at Carrot Park. The group will be joined Sunday by members of the Royal Canadian Legion, 888 Wing (Comox) and the Junior Rangers. The parade is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. with a flyover by Pacific Coastal at 10:40 a.m.

Then, at 11:15 a.m., the groups will welcome the Tour de Rock riders on the first leg of their fundraising ride the length of Vancouver Island.

The participants will then continue to the Civic Centre for a by-donation barbecue, cheque presentations and head shaves before the riders depart for Port McNeill.