Classic cars, motorcycles, steak and lobster: WWII veterans honoured with a night out in St. John's

·3 min read
Rod Deon took a ride in a 1952 Buick Super to Friday night's event honouring World War Two veterans. He was also marking his 100th birthday.  (Chelsea Jacobs/CBC - image credit)
Rod Deon took a ride in a 1952 Buick Super to Friday night's event honouring World War Two veterans. He was also marking his 100th birthday. (Chelsea Jacobs/CBC - image credit)
Chelsea Jacobs/CBC
Chelsea Jacobs/CBC

There are only 80 Second World War veterans left in Newfoundland and Labrador, according to the Royal Canadian Legion, but 12 were honoured at Branch 56 in Pleasantville in St. John's Friday night.

It was an evening that started with a motorcade that left from the Caribou Memorial Veterans Pavilion on the opposite side of Quidi Vidi Lake.

Dozens of people lined the street, applauding and yelling "thank you" as each car rolled by.

Vehicles were provided by the Newfoundland Antique and Classic Car Club to get each veteran to the venue in style. They were flanked by members of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary and the Commandos Canada Motorcycle Club as their escorts.

"They all feel very grateful. We're very happy that the veterans have made themselves known to us through Operation Roll Call," Jenn Deon, secretary for Royal Canadian Legion Branch 56, told CBC News.

"You don't know how many veterans are out there until you put a call out. We actually had about 25 veterans identify themselves to us, and only about half of them are feeling up to attending."

Chelsea Jacobs/CBC
Chelsea Jacobs/CBC

Once inside the legion, the guests of honour were treated to a lobster and steak dinner, with entertainment provided by Broadway's Petrina Bromley, pianist Bill Brennan and the Royal Newfoundland Regiment Band Combo.

The 12 veterans on parade ranged in age from 95 to 102 years old. The group was made up of both men and women, who between them have served in all three branches of military service including Army, Navy and Air Force. The event comes a day after Memorial Day in Newfoundland and Labrador, a day of remembrance for those who fought and died in France during World War One.

For Deon the evening was extra special.

Her father, Rod Deon, was among the veterans being honoured Friday night, but he also turned 100 years old. Rod Deon is a veteran of the Royal Canadian Navy and was part of the D-Day landings in 1944.

"He's sort of the inspiration for this event for me. It's important to remember his sacrifice and those like him," Deon said.

For honour

Presentations to the veterans in attendance were made by the Quilts of Valour and Crow's Nest organizations.

Leonard Stoyles, sergeant-at-arms for Branch 56, said the day was about giving honour to the remaining Second World War veterans.

Chelsea Jacobs/CBC
Chelsea Jacobs/CBC

"We don't have too many veterans left, so we're trying to make the best of it," he said.

"Without the veterans nobody would be here. They went to war and fought for everybody, and now we're trying to give them back something out of respect for what they've done for us."

Friday's guest list also included Lt-Gov. Judy Foote, federal Natural Resources Minister Seamus O'Regan, MP Jack Harris, Environment Minister Bernard Davis, St. John's Mayor Danny Breen and Nathan Lehr, president of the Royal Canadian Legion, Newfoundland and Labrador Provincial Command.

Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting