Department of National Defence

Department of National Defence

September 22, 2011 14:03 ET

Tribute to a Great Canadian War Hero

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Sept. 22, 2011) - A monument in Mount Pleasant Cemetery honouring the highest decorated war veteran in the Commonwealth and the British Empire will be dedicated on September 22, 2011. Members of Lieutenant-Colonel/Wing Commander William George "Will" Barker's family will be in attendance, as will the Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario, the Honourable David C. Onley, and members of the Canadian Forces. When LCol/WC Barker passed, and his body lay in state, it was the largest national event of the kind in Toronto's history. Some 50,000 spectators lined the streets of Toronto.

"Our government believes that Canadian heroes like LCol/WC Barker deserve the respect and recognition of a grateful nation," said the Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence. "LCol/WC Barker is the highest decorated war veteran in the Commonwealth and the British Empire and I find it most fitting that our government act to recognize his service and sacrifices."

For his many accomplishments LCol/WC Barker was awarded the Victoria Cross and eight other gallantry medals, including the Distinguished Service Order and Bar, the Military Cross and two Bars, the French Croix de guerre, and two Italian Silver Medals for Valour. He was also mentioned in dispatches three times. He also served as Acting Director of the RCAF during its creation in 1924 and, co-founded Canada's first commercial airline and the annual International Air Show at Toronto's CNE.

"LCol/WC Barker is an important figure in Canada's military history," said the Honourable Steven Blaney, Minister of Veterans Affairs. "The dedication of this monument will help to raise awareness among younger generations of his valuable contributions to our national story."

The Canadian Forces are proud to participate in this ceremony that recognizes the outstanding contributions of LCol/WC Barker and that appropriately rededicates his resting place at Mount Pleasant Cemetery.

"LCol/WC Barker is an outstanding figure in Canadian military and civil aviation history. He destroyed fifty enemy aircraft during First World War. He was a pioneer in Canadian aviation history, and was the co-founder of Canada's first commercial airline, Bishop-Barker Airlines in 1919," said Lieutenant-General André Deschamps, Commander of the Royal Canadian Air Force. "No one in Canadian military history has matched LCol/WC Barker's record of awarded decorations. He deserves his place in the pantheon of Canadian flying heroes. The monument and dedication ceremony are important initiatives to honour this Canadian hero."

For more information on LCol/WC Barker, please visit the following sites:

http://www.biographi.ca/009004-119.01-e.php?&id_nbr=7893&terms=barker+vc

http://www.theaerodrome.com/aces/canada/barker.php

For more information about the event, please contact RCAF Public Affairs Officer, Captain Lisa Evong at 613-944-5841 or by email at lisa.evong@forces.gc.ca

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