Royal Canadian Legion Branch 288’s president was presented with a 50-year service medal during a presentation at the Airdrie branch on March 23.
“It’s a very good feeling,” Bill Dunbar said, after receiving the medal. “It kind of shows you how old I am, that’s for sure.”
While Dunbar was awarded his 50-year service medal, he said he’s actually been involved with legions even longer than that, adding a number of his service years weren’t properly documented. He said he lost a gap when he moved between legion branches a number of years ago.
He has been a member of Airdrie’s legion since 1996, when he officially retired. According to Dunbar, the first legion he joined was Branch 88 in Maple Ridge, B.C. in the late 1960s. Dunbar’s father, who was a Second World War veteran, was a member of the legion, which is what initially sparked his interest in getting involved himself.
“I then spent seven years in the Canadian Army,” Dunbar said. “During that time, I visited a number of legions and appreciated what they did.”
Dunbar initially got involved in the Canadian Armed Forces when he was just 16 years old, when he joined a now-defunct program called the Soldier Apprentice Program in 1956. The program focused on training young men in different aspects of the military.
During his time at the two-year program, he also joined the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals. After the completion of the program, he said he finished the program with experience as a radio technician. That training then took him to New Brunswick, where he worked on the radios installed inside of tanks.
He then travelled with the United Nations to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. After spending time in Africa, Dunbar landed back in B.C., where he started his service with a number of legions.
Dunbar said his service to the legion has lasted so long because he enjoys working for the betterment of veterans and their families.
“It is also a very good thing to be a part of in terms of camaraderie,” Dunbar said. “That is something that has kept me involved and something I really believe in.”
He said he feels pretty good about his 50 years of service and has enjoyed the opportunity to meet so many people from all walks of life.
“Supporting veterans and their families is why I continue to hang my hat here,” he said.