Speaker Bio:
Captain Mort Lightstone

Speaks:

English

Speaking Topics:

Korean War, Service and Sacrifice

  • Cpt Lightstone leading the 'Captain Lightstone Promise' with a class of paralegal students at Humber College, Oshawa

  • At the Victory in Europe Day celebration 2016

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I was born in 1932 in Ottawa, Ontario. My father was a second-generation Canadian who made watches and my mother was a first-generation Canadian who emigrated from Poland. Money was tight in my family, and nothing was wasted. My father and brother served in the Second World War. Today, I live in Toronto, Ontario. Enlisting: Coming from a large family meant that I often got hand-me-down clothes from my older siblings. During high school, I joined the Air Cadets and received a new uniform, boots and wardrobe! I won an Air Cadet scholarship to fly, and I earned my Air Cadet Pilot’s Wings. In 1951, when I was 18 years old, my parents told me they could not afford to keep me in school anymore. I had to go to work. Because of my success as an Air Cadet, I decided to join the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF). My career with the military: I started my career in the Royal Canadian Air Force as an officer. I trained to become an Air Force Navigator, and in 1952 I was deployed overseas to fly missions in the Korean War. I flew an aircraft for the Korean Air Lift programme. That meant that members of my squadron and I were responsible for flying personnel and supplies to Korea, and for bringing wounded personnel home on return flights. In later years, as a member of 436 Squadron, Canada’s global response squadron, I was sent all around the world on special duties for the Canadian government. In 1972 and 1973, I flew a C-130 Hercules aircraft in the Vietnam War. The C-130 Hercules can carry huge and heavy loads. My job was to bring special communications equipment to the team that was trying to achieve peace between the United States and Vietnam to end the fighting. I also taught at the RCAF Navigation School in Winnipeg, participated in Canada’s Centennial Celebration in 1967, and brought supplies to the Far North, among many other duties over the years. Many of my flying missions put me in dangerous situations and in conflict zones. This was challenging. Another challenge was coming face-to-face with the effects of war, when I saw the wounded soldiers on my aircraft coming home from Korea. There were many rewards to my career in the Air Force, such as the opportunity to fly missions all around the world and see so many countries. But the greatest reward? For me, it was the honour of serving Canada. During my 28-year military career, I was awarded a medal each from the United Nations and from Canada for my Korean War service, a medal for my Cold War service, and two medals for Meritorious Service, among others. Remembrance in my community: Today, in retirement, I am still committed to serving Canada through many volunteer organizations including various Veterans associations. I also share my story of service through The Memory Project Speakers Bureau. Remembrance is a very important part of my life. I think it is amazing that for more than 100 years, Canadian soldiers have worked for peace and security in so many other countries around the world. I think we are lucky to live here in Canada, where we are free, and where we feel safe. To me, Remembrance means keeping this in mind.

"His presentation was humorous at times and was interspersed with photos of the different planes that he had flown in, sketches that he had made of various places he had been while serving, stories of some of his military training, and even a few old military secrets! He definitely kept the students engaged."

— Wesley Christian Academy, Ontario

The Memory Project includes a community of over 1,500 veterans and Canadian Forces members who are committed to sharing their stories of service.

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