Legion Of Honour

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Branch 593 Member receives the Legion Of Honour from the French Government

Russell McKayRussell McKay was at Nepean High School when the Second World War broke out, and he signed right up — a kid so green that he packed his skates to go to war.

In his years in the Royal Canadian Air Force he landed first in one ocean, and then on the wrong side of another one.

On Saturday, he became a Chevalier of the Légion d’Honneur, one of 16 veterans of the war honoured by France in a ceremony at the National War Museum. Most are from the Ottawa area.

McKay learned early that landing is sometimes as big an adventure as flying.Legion Of Honour

Take the first time, ditching off the coast of Nova Scotia.

“We were lost over the Atlantic,” he said. As a new crew on coastal patrol searching for submarines, “we didn’t know where we were and spent a long time.” Low on fuel, they spotted land but couldn’t reach it.

“We went down into St. Margaret’s Bay,” near Halifax. “It was either get down or crash. We were doggone lucky: Fishermen came out and picked us up.”

Flying officer Russell McKay is photographed after receiving a Legion of Honour award from the French government during a ceremony at the Canadian War Museum Saturday, November 8, 2014. McKay completed 38 missions over Europe and was awarded his Operational Wings.

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