Veterans who served in Pennfield remembered at memorial service

Veterans who served in Pennfield
remembered at memorial service

by Barb Rayner/ Transcribed by G. Christian Larsen

ST. GEORGE - The 76 service personnel killed while serving at the two former Charlotte County military bases during the Second World War were remembered at a special memorial service here Sunday afternoon.

    While the weather didn't cooperate and the service was moved from the Pennfield Ridge war memorial to the St. George Legion hall because of the rain, more than 150 people were in attendance at the event, hosted by the Pennfield Parish Military Historical Society.

   This was the fourth annual memorial service honouring those who served at Pennfield Ridge Air Station and Camp Utopia.

    Among those who attended this year was Hope Fuglum of Calgary, Alta., whose 25-year-old brother, P/O Carlyle George Christensen, from Strathmore, Alta., was one of the four airmen killed Dec.18, 1943, when their plane hit the guy wire on the water tank in the rail yard at McAdam.

    McAdam Mayor Frank Carroll also attended the service, along with several other people from the village. The mayor gave Fuglum some photographs of the memorial that was erected in memory of the four young airmen in 2000.

    This was the first time Mayor Carroll had a chance to meet Fuglum and he invited her to come to McAdam for a visit to see the memorial herself. He also noted that his own father was among those who had been stationed at Pennfield.

McAdam Mayor Frank Carroll is pictured with Hope Fuglum of Calgary following the Pennfield Ridge War Memorial Service held at St. George Sunday. Fuglum's brother, P/O Carlyle George Christensen, was one of the four airmen killed when their plane hit a guy wire near the McAdam train station in December 1943. In 2000 the Village of McAdam erected a memorial to the four men by the station and Mayor Carroll brought along photographs for Fuglum as well as inviting her to visit the village.

    Master of ceremonies, Major Bev Harrison gave a brief history of the air station and Camp Utopia following the memorial service where wreaths were laid. The Last Post and Reveille were played by Ian Lee while Billy Duncan played the lament "Flowers of the Forest" on the bagpipes.

    Although Veterans Affairs Minister Greg Thompson was unable to attend, a letter from him was read by Walter Balasiuk. Thompson thanked the society for collating the history, ensuring that it will not be lost and the veterans will always be honoured.

    He said the peace and freedom enjoyed today was secured by them. In addition to those who lost their lives, Thompson said, they should also remember those who came back to the area to become neighbours and friends and help build the local communities. Each of them, he said, has a place in history.

    Sheldon Lee, a former local MLA and transportation minister, said he was just a boy when the military bases were in operation, but he could remember the soldiers marching past his home in Bonny River.

    Oromocto Mayor Fay Tidd said it was hard to imagine Pennfield with 5,000 people and the military operations brought a lot of people into the local communities, which was a boost for the economy.

    In closing remarks Major Harrison said it was important to support the Canadian troops now serving in Afghanistan. Those who have returned from Afghanistan would willing go back because they believe they are part of a mission of great importance, he said.

    "When women are not allowed to advance at all and young girls can be blown up and schools can be blown up simply because they are there, I think we have an obligation as a country to defend them," he said. "I am a great believer in human rights."

SOURCE: The Saint Croix Courier (St. Stephen, NB) - September 29, 2009.

TRANSCRIBER'S NOTES: For additional photographs from the service, click here.

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