INTRODUCING VETERAN JOHN C. O’HARA
Comrade John comes from a military background. His father served in the Air Force during the Second World War. As a youngster, John served his community as an Air Cadet and after five years, he was given the opportunity to assist at the summer camp and teach the Glider Training Course. Comrade John relocated to another city where he assisted and pursued Air Cadet activities. Half-way through 1972, Comrade John decided to pursue a career path as a Reservist. He joined the 400 Air Reserve Squadron in Toronto and worked as a mechanic on the de Havilland DHC 3 Otter airplanes. As a Reservist he participated in military activities two nights a week and every second weekend.
He recalls that his choice was relatively stress-free as in his civilian life he worked on the repair, and maintenance of aircraft. While the regular (full-time) forces oversaw the invasive maintenance of the airplanes, it was quickly realized that Comrade John had work experience. Comrade John was responsible for regular maintenance, fuelling, repairs, operability, and safety of the airplanes. Comrade John advanced quickly and when he decided to leave the Reserves in 1976 he did so with the rank of Corporal.
Comrade John remembers weekends spent on training for bush survival. Normally, three airplanes would be on exercise each with a pilot, co-pilot plus at least three reservists. Bush training meant being out of normal communication reach; in an emergency the Squadron Office would contact a pilot and the message would be conveyed. Comrade John said that, “box lunches were pretty staple but if we were flying close to another base, we would take advantage by flying over, visiting and enjoying a hot meal.”
As a Reservist, Comrade John was able to pursue a civilian career as an automotive and aircraft mechanic. In 1976 he started a fresh career path with a new employer. This job required shift and weekend work, which precluded Comrade John from continuing as a Reservist. For the following three plus decades John worked as a millwright for the same company. After retirement, Comrade John was approached by his employer and he contracted with them for the next several years.
During the interview, Comrade John said, “everything you do, everything you experience and learn influences you somehow. These all go together to make up the total person you are in the future.”
Comrade John has kept in touch with past colleagues, and several years ago attended the 75th Anniversary of 400 Squadron.
In closing the interview, Comrade John stated he transferred to our Branch as he is often in Coldwater and he enjoys the activities (he is an avid dart enthusiast), and social events offered by our Branch. His closing remarks…although in the Reserves a short time, he enjoyed the camaraderie and opportunity to meet a lot of diverse persons – the bonus, the opportunity of pursuing work already performed in civilian life.
We thank you for your service.