Pennfield Ridge Air Station
Camp Utopia

"Serivce of Remembrance", 19-August-2018

19-August-2018: On behalf of the Pennfield Parish Military Historical Society, I, along with my five (5) year old daughter, attended a “Service of Remembrance” hosted by 250 (Saint John) Wing, RCAFA and the Turnbull Chapter, CAHS at the “Lest We Forget” memorial at Pennfield Ridge held at 1400 hours.

One member of our society decided to boycott the event and the remaining member was unable to attend due to short notice. After attending the said Service I too wish I had boycotted the event, but my wife has always known more than me. Her comment, after looking at some of the photographs of the event, “I seriously hope people do not think this was one of your events!” told me all I needed to know.

The said Service, within a span of 20-25 minutes, negated everything our society accomplished over the past nine years and did a real disservice to our Veterans – past & present. And this continued at the reception service that followed by remarks made by our current MLA.

A few issues with the hand-out program itself:

1) The listing of those killed at Pennfield Ridge Air Station and Camp Utopia was sanitized to remove any & all reference to our society’s research from which this entire list was originally derived. The listing of the fallen never existed before our research and is impossible to compile from the sources listed within the program hand-out itself alone. Also, several mistakes and/or omissions exist with the listing itself.

2) The first wreath laid, namely “For the Fallen of Pennfield [should be Pennfield Ridge] and Utopia [should be Camp Utopia], is disrespectful to the fallen, our “forgotten heroes” who died before their finest hour. During World War II the forces were separate (ie: Air Force & Army) and should continue to be hounoured as such. However, the memorial stone itself was thrown together by people who lacked a clear understanding of the events of World War II. The original concept of the memorial stone was just for Pennfield Ridge Air Station - Camp Utopia was added last moment without any real research or, as mentioned previously, a clear understanding of the events of the time;

3) The history of the Pennfield Ridge Air Station and Camp Utopia also came from our research and was always contained in our program hand-outs (2009-2017). Additionally, the source they choose to use was the N.B. Military History Project – material our society provided to the NBMHP in June 2009;

4) In the section “Our Thanks”, the following line is incorrect “We also wish to recognize and thank Morris Harris for his assistance. He is the sole remaining member of the 2005-2006 Committee which erected this monument.” The monument was brought about by the hard work and dedication of "The Charlotte County War Memorial Committee (2005)". The committee members were: J. David Stuart, Mark Pedersen, Charlotte Fundy Kin Club and 250 RCAF (Saint John) Wing. Mr. Harris, who I interviewed in February 2008, was involved with committee on behalf on the Charlotte County Fundy Kin Club itself, not in his own right. Additionally, at least one other member of the said Kin Club, still living as well, was also actively involved. Also, no mention of the 250 RCAF (Saint John) Wing was made which was one of the hosts of the said event. However, this sort of thing can be expected as the program hand-outs were done by Saint John historian Harold Wright who was a habit of sliding in last moment and taking credit for things he has nothing what-so-ever to do with to begin with. This has been an on-going issue since we began our research 26-January-2007 - Mr. Wright’s has always back another researcher who continually stood on the backs of our Veterans for self-promotion and glory. This researcher, thankfully, gave up the ghost in January 2011.

Finally, at the reception service our current MLA, Hon. Rick Doucet, spoke about his memories of Pennfield Ridge Air Station (also he kept referring to Camp Utopia as Camp Pennfield) and remarked how he has attended each & every memorial service since its inception in 2006. We found this remarkable as we hosted this event from 2009 until 2017 and during this time he attended in 2010 (1/2 event), 2014 (1/2 event & only attended due to the New Brunswick Lt. Gov. being in attendance) and lastly in 2016.

Regardless, we will continue forward with our research but will not attend any future “Service of Remembrance” that may be held. We will however find other ways to honour those who served/trained at Pennfield Ridge Air Station and Camp Utopia.

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