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SUTHERLAND, Vernon Alexander Flight Sergeant, No.122 Squadron (Canada), Can 2317A Air Force Medal RCAF Personnel Awards 1939-1949
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SUTHERLAND, FS Vernon Alexander (Can 2317A) - Air Force Medal - No.122 Squadron (Canada) - Award effective 1 January 1943 as per London Gazette of that date and AFRO 55/43 dated 15 January 1943. Born at Revelstoke, British Columbia, 29 January 1919. Enlisted in Vancouver, 5 April 1938 as Carpenter and posted to No.111 (Coastal Artillery Cooperation) Squadron. Apparently trained with that unit. Remustered to General Duties, 27 September 1938. Remustered to Wireless Electrical Mechanic, 16 November 1938. Promoted AC1, 17 October 1939. Various memos indicate that late in 1940 he completed courses in Signals, “Message picking up and supply dropping, ground and air”, photography (air and ground) and gunnery. To No.3 Coastal Artillery Cooperation Detachment, 31 January 1941. Reclassified as Wireless Operator/Air Gunner (Special) and promoted Sergeant, 1 September 1941. To No.122 (Communications) Squadron, 11 January 1942. To No.122 Squadron Coastal Artillery Cooperation Detachment, 1 February 1942. Promoted Flight Sergeant, 1 March 1942. Promoted WO2, 1 March 1943. To No.122 Squadron, 31 March 1943. Award presented 16 April 1943. To No.166 Squadron, 15 September 1943. Commissioned 23 September 1943. To No.4 ITS, 10 December 1943. To No.24 EFTS, Abbotsford, 10 March 1944. To No.13 SFTS, North Battleford, 30 June 1944 Graded as pilot, 26 January 1945 and retained at the unit as Maintenance Test pilot. Promoted Flying Officer, 24 March 1945. To “Y” Depot, 15 April 1945. Arrived in United Kingdom, 28 April 1945. Repatriated 10 July 1945. To Greenwood, 22 July 1945. To No.6 OTU, Comox, 16 October 1945, moving with that unit to Greenwood. To AFHQ, 28 June 1946. Remained in postwar RCAF (27177), retaining rank of Flying Officer as of 1 October 1946. To No.1 Composite Training School, Toronto, 3 January 1947. To Northwest Air Command, Edmonton, 2 March 19947. To NWAC Composite Flight, Edmonton, 1 April 1947. To Instrument Flying School, Centralia, 27 December 1947. To NWAC Communications Flight, Edmonton, 29 February 1948. Promoted Flight Lieutenant, 1 January 1950. To NWAC Headquarters, 15 August 1950. Formation became Tactical Air Group, 1 August 1951. To Recruiting Unit, Vancouver, 1 September 1951. Awarded Queens Coronation Medal, 23 October 1953. Promoted Squadron Leader, 1 July 1953. To No.104 Communications Flight, St. Hubert, 5 July 1954. To Station Dawson Creek, 12 March 1957. To No.1 Ground Observer Corps Unit, 18 March 1960. To Station Vancouver, 2 August 1960. To No.1 (Fighter) Wing, Marville, 1 September 1960. To No.5 Air Movements Unit, Marville, 2 March 1962. To AFHQ Practice Flight, Rockcliffe, 5 September 1963. To AFHQ, 5 May 1964. Retired 29 January 1966. Died in Surrey, British Columbia, 19 March 1975 as per British Columbia Vital Statistics. Photo PL-39603 is a portrait. This NCO since joining his squadron in June 1941, as a Wireless Operator Air Gunner, has carried out his duties in a highly efficient manner and his work has been outstanding. His cheerful devotion to duty and to the welfare of his squadron has set an inspiring example to others. In the course of his duties during the past year he has flown 422 operational hours, a great deal of which has been under adverse weather conditions. This recommendation was raised on 8 December 1942, wording almost identical to above. The speed with which it was processed is remarkable. Notes: The earliest comprehensive summary of his flying is dated 27 June 1949 when he was with NWAC “K” Flight - it lists 280 hours on single-engine aircraft, 1,601 hours ten minutes on multi-engine flying, and types listed are Expeditor, Norseman, Harvard and Dakota. On 25 July 1949, S/L W.C. Klassen (OC Communications Flight) wrote of him: This officer has been captain of the AOC’s aircraft for approximately a year and he has handled these duties with efficiency and reliability at all times. This officer can be given responsibility with confidence that the work will be satisfactorily completed. He has a knack in meeting strangers with ease and pleasantness and with his personality he has proven popular with all ranks. He has an active nature and takes it upon himself to learn at every opportunity, other phases of service life. He is always willing to accept any additional duties and with his excellent service attitude he is an asset to any flying unit. The assessment of W/C W.F. Parks (AFHQ/AMP/DPM) of 12 March 1952 is also striking: Flight Lieutenant Sutherland is Commanding Officer of the Recruiting Unit in Vancouver, B.C., and has gained the reputation of “master recruiter of the RCAF”. His unit produced 236 recruits for the RCAF during the month of January 1952. F/L Sutherland has an abundance of energy and devotes it all to his RCAF duties. He is an excellent organizer and administrator and has made his unit one of the best in Canada. He has a most pleasant personality and is well liked by his many associates. Subordinates and superiors all have the same high regard for him personally and in connection with his duties, He is a first-class officer, more than qualified to assume the responsibilities of higher rank. He is strongly recommended for promotion to the rank of Squadron Leader effective 1 June 1952. A summary of his flying as of 31 December 1956 listed the following types and hours: DH.82 (7.15), Cornell (81.00), Harvard (203.35), Anson (23.45), Mitchell (4.10), Lancaster (4.30), Norseman (4.25), Expeditor (395.55), North Star (55.10), Silver Star (11.00), C-119 (118.30) and Dakota (4,448.20). In the previous year with No.104 Communications Flight he had flown Expeditors and Dakotas. On 21 September 1956 he was second pilot in a C-119 (22113, Captain F/O G.W. Payne) which developed a fire in the air and crash-landed. Sutherland was the only one of seven aboard injured (fractures when jumping from aircraft to the ground). This appears to have curtailed his subsequent flying career. On 31 July 1957, Air Commodore E.M. Reyno wrote: Squadron Leader Sutherland has been commanding the Mid-Canada Line Station at Dawson Creek for the past four months, and has done a first rate job in an extremely tricky assignment. In spite of the fact that the Station is about 95 % civilian, a completely RCAF atmosphere permeates his Station. He is extremely popular, yet can be firm when the occasion demands. He could easily discharge the responsibilities of next higher rank. There were more favourable assessments of his work at Dawson Creek, notably in promoting base and community harmony. At No.1 Wing he applied his talents in another field as noted by G/C D.P. Hall on 24 November 1961. During the past year, Squadron Leader Sutherland has gained an excellent grasp of his unusual job of Protocol Officer and has displayed a decided flair for this type of work. His job primarily entails arranging for, meeting and dealing with distinguished visitors from many Canadian and foreign government departments, but he is also most helpful and thoughtful in arranging and ensuring that other visitors, high or low, receive the best possible treatment. By his polished and sympathetic manner of performing his duties he has brought a good deal of credit to 1 Air Division and the RCAF, as evidenced by the many spontaneous expressions of appreciation, both oral and written, received from visitors of all ranks and organizations. The last assessment on his file, composed by G/C R.A. Ashman, 30 March 1965, speaks to events of the day: S/L Sutherland has filled his present appointment as Senior Controller, CFHQ Operations Centre, for the past nine months. During this period it was necessary due to integration to combine and relocate three former Operations Centres, i.e. Army, Navy and Air Force, into one entity. This officer was responsible in the main for the smooth transition of this major reorganization. As Senior Controller he is responsible for maintaining up to the minute operational data for the Chief of Operational Readiness. In addition, this Centre is the focal point for direct communication between Defence Council and the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Washington, in the event of an emergency. S/L Sutherland carries of these duties in an efficient manner. Although Sutherland was due to retire in ten months, G/C Ashman still considered him worthy of promotion.