‘Keep this as sacred ground’
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.
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)