EVANSVILLE – Although he did not start off on the right foot in his career with the Royal Canadian Air Force, Tim Bailey says that he would do it all over again.
“It was nothing less than an honour to have served alongside so many others and I would do it all over again, if possible,” stated Mr. Bailey who served from April 25, 1986 until November 1, 1996.
However, he pointed out, “My boots touched ground in Cornwallis, Nova Scotia on April 25, 1986. Minutes later I was being yelled at for having my hands in my pockets. Busted down right from the first moment. Stripped of any rights that I thought I once had, no hair and surrounded by strangers that would soon become lifetime friends.”
“Oh yes I was in trouble right from the start. I couldn’t even explain it all,” said Mr. Bailey of his first few moments in the Air Force. “Master Corporal Bowen really took a strip off me for having my hands in my pockets. I was certainly dressed down. And somewhere along the line I probably said some smart aleck comment that set him off some more.”
Mr. Bailey is originally from North Bay, having been born there. “My dad was working at the Teachers College in North Bay when I was born. But I wasn’t even a year-old when my family moved to Sudbury. And I spent most of my summers on Manitoulin Island, until I turned 16 and moved in with my grandparents.”
After his school studies, Mr. Bailey worked in Sudbury and he decided to join the Air Force. “I guess I joined at the right time because the only conflict going on during the time I served was the Gulf War, and Canada only had a small part in that conflict.”
Mr. Bailey said of the basic training at Cornwallis, “those 10 weeks transformed a group of young men and women into young soldiers. Disciplined, well kempt and ready to take on the world.”
“After basic training and the following nine months of trades training at CFB Borden, I was shipped out to CFB Cold Lake, Alberta, which is aptly named, and later became 4 Wing,” said Mr. Bailey.
“I spent the next eight and a half years as a safety systems technician performing maintenance on the CF-18 fighters in 410 Tactical Fighters Training Squadron,” continued Mr. Bailey. “The trade Safety Systems were responsible for the egress systems, parachutes, survival kits, pilot’s flight equipment and oxygen systems in the aircraft.”
“In 1995 I was then posted to 8 Wing Trenton to work on the CC130 Hercules,” continued Mr. Bailey. “Life in a transport aircraft setting was much slower and I found it less appealing than working on fighters. It was just over a year when I decided to leave the Air Force.”
“I look back on the years and am astonished how the decision to enlist had such a snowball effect on my life,” stated Mr. Bailey. “It not only set me up with the qualifications and experience to continue working in the aerospace industry for the following 22 years (with Bombardier in Toronto) but the people I met and became lifetime friends with from all over this great nation.”
“My time in the Air Force was probably the best 10 years of my life. It was full of excitement, fun and adventure,” said Mr. Bailey.
“There’s a bond that is unexplainable and even though you may not have met the man or woman that lost their lives in peace or at war it affects you,” said Mr. Bailey. Reflecting on Remembrance Day he said, “this is the time to not only remember the men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice for this great nation that we call home, but to thank them for all that we enjoy today. Lest we Forget.”