The City of Quinte West’s rich military aviation history was at the forefront of Wednesday night’s Trenton Golden Hawks game.
The Royal Canadian Air Force Hawk One team of pilots were all honoured by the Golden Hawks organization with the presentation of jerseys by Mayor Jim Harrison and Quinte West councillors in a special pre-game ceremony at the Duncan McDonald Community Gardens.
The four team members honoured included; retired Lt. Col. Dan Dempsey retired Maj. Mike Woodfield, retired Captain Pierre Clement and Dave O’Malley, team graphic artist and designer of the Hawk One logo.
Lt. Col Dempsey, who came all the way from Victoria, British Columbia for the ceremony, flew with Hawk One from 2009 to 2012 and was Team Leader in 2011-12.
The long-time aviation enthusiast and pilot explains how the Hawks One team and the Golden Hawks organization came together for this special event.
Dempsey says that, as a member of Hawks One, it’s really important to bring extra awareness to the expansive history of the RCAF Golden Hawks and CFB Trenton, one of the oldest RCAF bases in Canada.
This event also partially came about to honour a very memorable man.
The original leader of the RCAF Golden Hawks in 1959-60, Wing Commander Fern Villeneuve, was hoping to be at the event, but unfortunately could not attend. As Dempsey explained, the 91-year-old Villeneuve spent many years living in Carrying Place, near CFB Trenton, but now lives in Guelph.
Dempsey told Quinte News more about Villeneuve’s extraordinary and historic career.
“It’s a very interesting story, Fern was an F-86 Sabre Pilot from the time he was quite a young man. He flew with 441 Fighter Squadron over in North Luffingham, England, which was where our first three squadrons of the air division were started back in the early 1950s, about 1952.”
“Fern is the only RCAF pilot ever to command three different Sabre aerobatic teams,” Dempsey continued.
“He’d (also) done 441 Squadron in Europe and he had done 431 Squadron temporarily in Bagotvile, Quebec in 1954. When the RCAF decided to form a new team to celebrate the 50th anniversary of powered flight in Canada in 1959, Fern was the natural selection and he did a wonderful job. He took that team and formed it, and took them to world status very quickly.”
The Hawk One logo is one the team members wear with pride and dignity. O’Malley admits the association with the Golden Hawks hockey club in regards to the logo is “one that we didn’t expect,” but that they were happy to connect with the team and support them.
He tells Quinte News what the big idea was to make the logo stand out in a positive way.
A presentation from council to Golden Hawks Director of Hockey Operations John McDonald of an RCAF Golden Hawk framed picture and a private event in the auditorium of the ‘Dunc’ was also part of the night
It wound up being a great night overall at the Dunc for everyone involved. The hockey-playing Golden Hawks rewarded the Hawk One personnel with a 4-2 victory over the Stouffville Spirit.