‘Keep this as sa­cred ground’

The Recorder & Times (Brockville) - - FRONT PAGE - RON­ALD ZAJAC

There was a time when the Sabre Jet helped keep the West safe for democ­racy, and Merv Wren was among the men who sat in the cock­pit.

On Fri­day morn­ing, the 77-yearold former RCAF pi­lot sat in the crowd on Block­house Is­land while his son, Matt, took part in the reded­i­ca­tion cer­e­mony for the Sabre on Block­house Is­land – the very plane Merv once flew.

The Cana­dian Forces Snow­birds were the high­light of the event, mak­ing two sched­uled passes over the me­mo­rial at the end of the cer­e­mony and top­ping it off with an un­ex­pected vic­tory pass.

But the deeper mean­ing was a re­minder to the com­mu­nity at large that the Golden Hawks Sabre Jet on its pedestal at the tip of Block­house Is­land is more than just a plane that once flew mis­sions.

“This is one of our city’s war me­mo­ri­als,” said Matt Wren, chair­man of the Brockville Sabre Me­mo­rial Restora­tion Com­mit­tee.

“It’s our duty to re­mem­ber and al­ways to keep this as sa­cred ground.”

The Golden Hawks Sabre Jet was do­nated to the city on June 23, 1968, in me­mory of Cana­dian air crews who lost their lives.

Merv Wren flew the ac­tual air­craft now on Block­house Is­land when he served in 422 Squadron in the 1960s dur­ing the Cold War.

The el­der Wren re­called serv­ing in Ger­many in the early 60s.

“We were on pa­trol dur­ing the Cuban Mis­sile Cri­sis,” he said.

“We would make trips to the (Iron) Cur­tain just to dupe them and see what their re­ac­tion time was.”

The Soviet side would do the same thing with Western de­fences, added Wren, not­ing it was con­sid­ered a game of sorts, al­beit a very se­ri­ous one.

Wren is pleased at the restora­tion so far.

“It’s ab­so­lutely won­der­ful. I’ve been look­ing at this plane now for al­most 30 years,” he said.

“I’ve no­ticed it get­ting in rough shape and I’m re­ally glad to see the restora­tion.”

City coun­cil­lors last year ap­proved a mo­tion to pay local artist Dave Sheri­dan to re­paint the vin­tage fighter jet.

On Fri­day, the restora­tion com­mit­tee joined the Royal Cana­dian Air Force Association and city of­fi­cials to re-ded­i­cate the me­mo­rial by mostly fol­low­ing the orig­i­nally in­tended cer­e­mony that was never com­pleted in 1968.

Kemptville OPP re­sponded to a num­ber of cat calls on Thurs­day and they’re not fe­line happy about them. Six calls came in to the po­lice about miss­ing or dead cats fol­low­ing the pub­li­ca­tion of a story in the weekly North Grenville Times, po­lice said. The pa­per re­ported about the in­crease in miss­ing or dead cats in the Kemptville area. Po­lice, with the as­sis­tance of a con­ser­va­tion of­fi­cer, have in­ves­ti­gated the re­ported in­ci­dents and they say there is no rea­son to sus­pect foul play. The de­ceased cats ap­pear to have been killed by an an­i­mal and the con­ser­va­tion au­thor­i­ties sus­pect coy­otes. “The OPP will not in­ves­ti­gate a miss­ing cat, un­less crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity is sus­pected,” the de­tach­ment said in a re­lease. If peo­ple want to en­sure the safety of their cats, keep them in­doors, po­lice ad­vise.

RON­ALD ZAJAC/THE RECORDER AND TIMES

The Cana­dian Forces Snow­birds fly past Block­house Is­land dur­ing the reded­i­ca­tion of the Golden Hawks Sabre Jet war me­mo­rial, seen in fore­ground, on Fri­day morn­ing. The air demon­stra­tion squadron wowed the crowd gath­ered to reded­i­cate the newly re­stored jet. (For more pho­tos, please see our story on www.recorder.ca)

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