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Letters Aug. 5: Honour a wartime air hero from B.C.; a vote of thanks for health care

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Veteran Peter Chance, left, and British Columbia Aviation Museum liaison Russ Hudson with the Lt. Robert Hampton Gray Memorial Monument at the museum in 2021. A letter-writer urges readers to pay their respects to one of Canada's most decorated airmen on the anniversary of his death on Aug. 9. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

A time to remember an air hero from B.C.

On Aug. 9, 1945, Lt. Robert Hampton Gray became the last Canadian combat casualty of the Second World War.

While serving as a pilot on loan with the British Fleet air arm during the Battle of the Atlantic in 1944, he earned a “Mentioned in Dispatches” for courageous attacks on the Tirpitz Battle Group.

He remained with the Royal Navy Carrier HMS Formidable for action in the Japanese theatre of operations in 1945, and on July 28, while flying his Corsair leading attacks against the Japanese Navy, he sank an enemy destroyer. For this action he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.

On Aug. 9, during further attacks on the Japanese, he sunk another Japanese escort vessel, but withering anti-aircraft fire downed his aircraft and he crashed into the sea, where he rests in his aircraft to this day.

For his fearless leadership and successful action he was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest award for valour in the Commonwealth.

Gray is the last Canadian honoured with this award and the only pilot from B.C. — Nelson — ever to receive the VC.

In August 2021, a beautiful three-panel granite monument was erected by a team of “Four Old Navy Guys” on the grounds of the B.C. Aviation Museum at the Victoria airport honouring Gray and his Canadian colleagues who served with the RN Fleet.

Gray was among the most decorated Canadians of the war.

On Aug. 9, please consider a visit to the museum to pay a tribute to Gray and other Canadian aviators who served with such distinction with the RN Fleet. There you will see the “Harvard” trainer on which those valiant pilots earned their wings.

Stanley Brygadyr
Victoria

Our precious health care reinforced my support

My recent experience with our health-care system reinforced my hopes, wishes and support for the survival of this unique model. My heartfelt gratitude for the multitude of health-care professionals at every level will remain with me as long as I live.

I experienced an upsetting episode of twice fainting (once in the emergency department) and at the age of 82 suspected a stroke or heart attack.

A call to 911 explaining the situation brought an ambulance to our home in less than 10 minutes. The three days of intensive care and thorough investigation resulted in a diagnosis and treatment/monitoring regimen.

There were so many individuals involved in my care and treatment while in the cardiac unit at Royal Jubilee Hospital. They were relentless!

Truly, a system worthy of our support and encouragement.

Tony Southwell
Victoria

A positive story about B.C. health care

Amidst the continuing major challenges in B.C.’s health system, I have a positive tale to tell. After two-plus years of COVID restrictions, my husband David and I signed up for a trip aboard Cascadia, one of Maple Leaf Adventures’ ships.

Unfortunately, by the fourth day aboard, David developed an infection and we had to leave the ship prematurely. The Cascadia crew sprang into action and arranged for an air ambulance to collect David at Kyuquot Village.

The two EMTs aboard the helicopter were friendly and professional, taking down David’s medical history before flying him to the hospital in Port McNeill.

I was able to join him there a few hours later and found he was very well looked after. He had a bed, Dr. Anas Toweir was available for discussions and treatment, and the nurses were helpful and professional. After David received a night of intravenous antibiotics, I was able to him bring him safely to Victoria.

Perhaps we were lucky to end up in a smaller community hospital. No lineups in the ER. A bed was available.

We sincerely thank the Maple Leaf Adventures crew who know exactly what to do when one of their passengers falls ill, and the air ambulance and Port McNeill medical professionals who saved the day.

Marianne Scott
Victoria

Vote for a balanced life in Langford

When I moved to my home five years ago, I knew the small urban forest behind me would be developed. Langford has a reputation of rolling out the red carpet for developers and I was not naïve to the city’s “git-r-dun” attitude toward city growth. As nearby properties were approved for large developments and construction began, reality me hit hard.

Our quiet cul-de-sac was soon packed with construction vehicles and peaceful days in my backyard were interrupted with the sound of heavy equipment. The view from my backyard sanctuary was cleared of the majority of the trees on site and I am certain I won’t see the local barred owl again. Why was this happening to me? Why in my backyard?

As I asked these questions, I stumbled across a community of like-minded Langford residents on a social media platform. I read of other Langford residents’ experiences.

They were voicing the same frustrations with the city’s decision-making processes, disregard for the environment, and refusal to listen. It’s no secret that Langford is not balancing quality of life with community growth and they are not concerned with meaningful engagement with existing residents. It’s not just me, in my backyard.

While I have never been involved in municipal politics, I now realize the importance of it. All politicians need to be held accountable by citizens in order for democracy to function. Municipal elections are coming up and candidates will be announcing themselves this month. I urge you to have your voice heard.

Talk to your local candidates and vote on Oct. 15. I will be.

Jodi Bradley
Victoria

Make it easier for drivers to pull over

Re: “A reminder: Pull over, let others pass,” letter, Aug. 2.

I agree with pulling off the road to let others pass. I do this frequently on Sooke Road and West Saanich Road because 10 km/h over the speed limit is the max I will do, and the locals go faster.

I would like to remind people not to tailgate a slower vehicle. There are often times I’m looking for a place to pull over, but I don’t have time to slow and move over when someone is right on my tail.

I don’t drive these roads frequently enough to know where all the pullouts are. I’m not going to go onto loose gravel at full speed.

Give us space to get out of your way. Honestly, we (or at least some of us) are trying to move out of your way.

Mary Ross
Saanich

Private clinics would cause further harm

Re: “The basic health question: Who owns our bodies?” commentary, July 29.

Since the start of his campaign to legalize private health clinics in B.C., Brian Day has said that his motive is not to boost income for doctors. Ask what his positive intent is and it becomes less clear.

Day, it would appear, would have us believe that his intention is a noble one, to increase health resources and choices for Canadians. If that’s so, it makes no sense to mount a long and costly legal war against the public health-care system.

Were Day interested in improving the health choices of Canadians would he would not have spent the considerable resources in his ongoing court fight to assure Canadians have a single, equitable health-care system, not a fractured one?

Have no doubt that a two-tier health system will inevitably create greater inequalities. The two-tier experience in the U.K. has increased health-care accessibility for a segment of Britons with the means to afford it; and the National Health System for the rest has not only not benefitted as predicted, but is increasingly precarious as a result.

Canada’s health-care system is not collapsing, as opponents of medicare would have us believe. Like every other institution in this country, it is undergoing a profound shift.

The current crisis in our major institutions, including health care, is the result of failed privatization, deregulation and anti-governmnent policies. Allowing private health clinics would only add fuel to the burning social structures that this ideology devoted to greed has created.

Paul Walton
Nanaimo

Rail corridor should serve everyone

Re: “Choose active transportation, not a renewed railway,” commentary, July 20.

Denise Savoie fails badly in the reference to the value of the corridor. To indicate that only cyclists or walkers should benefit from the corridor is a slap in the face to seniors and other non-cyclists or limited walkers.

Savoie also misread the information supplied by the Island Corridor Foundation. The rail services are far more than she indicated.

There are two types of passenger services, plus tourist trains (revenue producers) as well. Also more revenue from a variety of freight rail opportunities.

The corridor already has many kilometres of trails paralleling the rails so cyclists and walkers get what they want.

The time is now. A win-win situation for everyone, not just one segment of the population.

Jack Peake
Duncan

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