On November 11, fittingly, 91-year-old Don McAllister was awarded the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal at a ceremony held at the Elmira Legion.
McAllister was presented with the medal and citation by Kitchener-Conestoga MP Harold Albrecht for 30 plus years of service with the Royal Canadian Air force. McAllister said he had no idea that he was going to be presented with the medal until Albrecht called him up.
“I didn’t have a clue,” laughs McAllister. “I was a bit flabbergasted.”
His wife of 68 years, Bessie, knew he would be receiving the medal and said it was quite hard to keep it from him for the last few months.
McAllister was quite upset during the first televised Diamond Jubilee medal ceremony held in Ottawa where Governor General David Johnston handed out the medal as there was no Second World War veteran awarded.
“I created quite a little stir about it. Korean veterans and Afghanistan veterans received medals but no Second World War veteran and really there would have been no jubilee medal if it had not been for the Second World War veteran. Without them we would not have won the war and there would have been no queen,” said McAllister. “I’m not sure if that had anything to do with me getting one.”
In 1940 McAllister joined the air force starting his career in Brandon Manning Pool before transferring to Guelph and then Belleville for training during the Second World War. He was then sent overseas to Europe and served for a few months before the end of the war.
“I was on the list to go to the Pacific but the war ended there so I came back and was released in 1946 but I reenlisted in 1949 and served in training units until I retired in 1972,” said McAllister.
During his distinguished career, McAllister would travel across Canada from Greenwood, Nova Scotia to Fort Nelson, British Columbia. He retired while living in Cold Lake, Alberta, but it would take another 30 years before he and Bessie were convinced by their daughter to move to Elmira so they could be closer to their grandchildren and great grandchildren.
For the last 12 years McAllister has been an active member of the Elmira Legion branch 469 and still works as the service officer.
“It took some time to get use to Elmira, but it is really nice here and I have enjoyed my time at the Legion.”