Which enormously famous Canadian pop culture icon was WAY cooler, more interesting and important than the (admittedly extremely cool) TV character he is ridiculously famous for?
At the beginning of the Second World War, ------ joined the Royal Canadian Artillery. He was commissioned a lieutenant in the 13th Field Artillery Regiment of the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division. ------ went to the United Kingdom in 1940 for training. His first combat was the invasion of Normandy at Juno Beach on D-Day. Shooting two snipers, ------ led his men to higher ground through a field of anti-tank mines, where they took defensive positions for the night[Coo-Whul!]. Crossing between command posts at 11:30 that night, ------ was hit by six rounds fired from a Bren gun by a nervous Canadian sentry: four in his leg, one in the chest, and one through his right middle finger. The bullet to his chest was stopped by a silver cigarette case [Oh come on! No one is that cool!]. His right middle finger had to be amputated,
...and he hid his injured hand for the TV cameras.
It's the only hint you're going to get.
Well, OK, maybe just a bit more,
------ trained as a pilot and flew Taylorcraft Auster Mark V aircraft for 666 (AOP) Squadron, RCAF, as a Royal Canadian Artillery officer in in support of #1 Canadian AGRA (Army Groups Royal Artillery). All three Canadian (AOP) RCAF Squadrons were manned by Artillery Officer-pilots and accompanied by enlisted RCA and RCAF personnel serving as observers.
Though he was never actually a member of the Royal Canadian Air Force, he was once labeled the "craziest pilot in the Canadian Air Forces." A story from his flying years tells of ------ slaloming a plane — variously cited as a Hurricane or a jet trainer — between mountainside telegraph poles to prove it could be done, which earned him a serious reprimand.
- After storming the beach at Normandy, he saw a tank, which was carrying his substantial winnings from a card game, blown to pieces before his eyes.
- His aerobatic exploits included nearly crashing his aircraft in Holland while taking "a look" at a German U-boat, earned him the title of "the craziest pilot in the Royal Canadian Air Force".
He spent the second half of his life using his fame to be a kind of ambassador to encourage people to go out there and reach for big life goals. He helped people, encouraged them, spoke to them about his exploits and what life was supposed to be for.
He related the story of a woman fan who sent him a suicide note. He contacted her immediately, and helped her to see new possibilities in life. Eight years later, she sent him a message thanking him for his kindness and telling him that she had earned a degree in electrical engineering.
Oh, and one last note,
Welcomed his last child into the world at 80.