CALGARY — A long-time Calgary police officer and former member of the Royal Air Force has put his body to the test in an effort to raise funds for military families and veterans in need.
Ian McCaughtrie set off Saturday morning and completed a 90-kilometre bike ride back and forth from the Bomber Museum in Nanton to Chain Lakes Provincial Park.
The ride is meant to honour the 78th anniversary of what’s known as the Dambuster Raid or Operation Chastise when Royal Air Force No. 617 Squadron used a purpose-built “bouncing bomb” to carry out an attack on German Dams.
A total of 30 Canadians fought in the battle and 15 lost their lives.
As a 12-year member of the Calgary Police Service and former member of the 617 Sqn Dambusters from 1984-88, McCaughtrie says veterans are close to his heart. He completed the ride with all proceeds going to the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund and Wounded Warriors Canada.
“Through the military and first responders, there’s a lot of people suffering from (post-traumatic stress disorder) and suicides and the hope is that even if we can save one life, we can make a difference.
“It’s also the 100th birthday of the last surviving member of the Dambuster Raid, which is squadron leader George ‘Johnny’ Johnson, so we started with that and figured we’d raise a few hundred bucks.”
As of Saturday afternoon, MCaughtrie has raised nearly $1,500 for Wounded Warriors Canada and almost $900 for the RAF Benevolent Fund.
Another third donation campaign is also in place however, to raise money for the Bomber Museum of Canada in Nanton, which has been closed 12 of the last 14 months due to COVID and is struggling financially.
It was McCaughtrie’s idea to encourage community members to support the preservation of historical war artifacts, including a Lancaster bomber plane located at the museum.
That bomber is one of only four in the entire world that still has a running engine.
“We’ve rebuilt our Lancaster for the past 30 years, it runs perfectly now and it’s our tribute to all the 10,000 Canadian lads killed in bombers in World War Two,” said Karl Kjarsgaard, curator of the Bomber Museum of Canada.
“We’ve taken a heck of a kicking during COVID, but news of our death is greatly exaggerated, we’re still strong and we’re going to survive this and these are the special projects we do to support and honour our veterans.”
So far, the museum has received close to $3,000 in donations.