Down Mem­ory Lane

The trav­el­ling Air­borne Chal­lenge Coin

The Southern Gazette - - Editorial - Al­lan Stood­ley Al­lan Stood­ley is a long-time res­i­dent of Grand Bank. He can be reached at am­stood­[email protected]­mail.com and he wel­comes com­ments on this or any other ar­ti­cle he has writ­ten.

Grand Bank na­tive Steven Dou­glas joined the Cana­dian Forces in 1964 at the young age of 17.

By 1977 he was a sea­soned army vet­eran, hav­ing done two peace­keep­ing tours in Cyprus and be­com­ing a qual­i­fied parachutis­t.

He then vol­un­teered for and be­came a mem­ber of the Cana­dian Air­borne Reg­i­ment, a parachute in­fantry group of sol­diers formed and manned from other reg­i­ments.

Each sol­dier who joined the Air­borne Reg­i­ment re­ceived a com­mem­o­ra­tive coin bear­ing his se­rial number on the front and em­bla­zoned with the reg­i­ment’s dis­tinc­tive em­blem on the back.

Re­ferred to as a “Chal­lenge Coin,” a sol­dier can be “coined” at any time by a com­rade.

Ac­cord­ing to Dou­glas, “if a jumper is coined he must im­me­di­ately pro­duce his coin or he pays, usu­ally for a drink. If he does pro­duce his coin, then the chal­lenger has to pay.”

In 1981, after serv­ing four years as a mem­ber of the Air­borne Reg­i­ment, then-War­rant Of­fi­cer Dou­glas was trans­ferred to the CFB Corn­wal­lis base in Nova Sco­tia as an in­struc­tor, train­ing new re­cruits.

Two years later in 1983, his per­son­al­ized Chal­lenge Coin and his mil­i­tary parka went miss­ing.

He re­quested and re­ceived a re­place­ment coin but un­like the orig­i­nal, it was not per­son­al­ized with his se­rial number.

Thirty-four years later in Oc­to­ber of this year, Dou­glas and his wife Glo­ria were vis­it­ing fam­ily and friends in New Brunswick when he re­ceived emails from a cou­ple of guys who served with him ask­ing, “are you miss­ing your coin?”

The long-lost coin ended up in the hands of re­tired Air Force pilot Kevin El­liott Wight, who found it in a jar at the home of Digby, N.S. res­i­dent Bob Pet­ti­paw, who owned a taxi ser­vice and an au­to­mo­tive shop.

The Wights were clear­ing out the Pet­ti­paw home after the gentle­man died. On Aug. 19, 2017 at a fam­ily re­union, Kevin Wight, real­iz­ing the sig­nif­i­cance of his new pos­ses­sion, gave the coin to his brother Jef­frey, who had also served in the Air­borne Reg­i­ment.

Through Face­book and by con­tact­ing the Cana­dian Air­borne Forces As­so­ci­a­tion, the miss­ing coin was traced to War­rant Of­fi­cer Steven Ge­orge Dou­glas, #1725, now re­tired and liv­ing in Gar­nish, NL.

Jeff Wight im­me­di­ately con­tacted an elated Dou­glas and promptly mailed the coin back to its right­ful owner in Gar­nish, with a de­tailed ex­pla­na­tion of how things un­folded.

In Au­gust 2018 the Royal Cana­dian Reg­i­ment has a re­union planned in Kingston, On­tario. Dou­glas is plan­ning to present Jeff Wight with a bot­tle of New­found­land Screech – I won­der who will be coined first.

Other for­mer sol­diers from the Burin Penin­sula who were also Air­borne Com­man­dos and thus are in pos­ses­sion of Chal­lenge Coins are John Tar­rant and Pa­trick Turpin from St. Lawrence, Pa­trick Brock­erville from Lawn, and Kevin John­son of Grand Bank.

It is also wor­thy of note that Dou­glas’ only son, Mas­ter War­rant Of­fi­cer Robert Dou­glas, was also a mem­ber of the Air­borne Reg­i­ment for three years and is the owner of an Air­borne Coin.

After serv­ing in the mil­i­tary for 33 years, Dou­glas re­tired in 1997 and moved back to Gar­nish after achiev­ing the rank of chief war­rant of­fi­cer.

He is mar­ried to the for­mer Glo­ria An­stey and they are the par­ents of three chil­dren.

For some years he taught the firearm safety course in this area and in 2015 was named as the Cana­dian Firearms In­struc­tor of the Year for New­found­land and Labrador.

AL­LAN STOOD­LEY PHO­TOG­RA­PHY

Steven G. Dou­glas

AL­LAN STOOD­LEY PHO­TOG­RA­PHY

A photo of his per­son­al­ized Cana­dian Air­borne Chal­lenge Coin, which went miss­ing for 34 years but is once again in the pos­ses­sion of its right­ful owner, War­rant Of­fi­cer Steven Ge­orge Dou­glas, se­rial #1725.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.