There is nothing like a Dame

RCAF vet Charley Fox leaning on one of his beloved Spitfires; but a day in 2006 nearly topped that.

A student pilot nearly killed him in a training accident in November 1942. While still an instructor in the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, during the Second World War here in Canada, he’d survived a head-on collision with another aircraft near Bagotville, Quebec. And overseas during combat operations flying Spitfires, RCAF airman Charley Fox also survived 234 combat sorties as a fighter pilot. And yet, it was a June evening in 2006, that Charley told me just about topped them all.

“Meeting Dame Vera Lynn,” Fox said, “was a highlight in my life.”

Subtle but passionate Canadian

Dave Zink, proprietor of Grenadier Militaria in Port Perry.

In the fall of 2001, a man dropped by the original location of the Grenadier Militaria store in Port Perry. It wasn’t long after the store had opened its doors for the first time. Although he didn’t know Dave Zink, the proprietor of the store, Dave Robinson asked a favour. A production (by the Borelians Community Theatre) needed military props and uniforms to authenticate an upcoming show. Robinson, then a history teacher at Port Perry High School, wondered if Zink might loan some of his unique artefacts to the production. Robinson couldn’t believe what happened.

“He said, ‘Yes,’” Robinson said. “And right away, I knew Dave Zink was a valuable asset to the community because he was so supportive.”