Veteran Stories:
Orest Cochkanoff

Air Force

  • Collection of Royal Canadian Air Force Sqaudron crests.

  • Examples of the badges of the different branches of service of the Canadian Armed Forces.

  • Examples of the different operational wings given to members of the Royal Canadian Air Force during World War II, the Post-War period and current Canadian Forces missions.

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"After the war, however, I was quite keen on the Air Force, so I joined the Air Force Reserve and served for several years in that capacity."


My name is Orest Cochkanoff, and I used to live in western Canada. Born in Alberta, brought up in BC, then moved to Ontario, and finally Nova Scotia where I live now. I enrolled in the RCAF in June of 1944 for air crew training. I was told to go back home and they would call me when the training system opened, and there was a course that was ready to go. I did, and I waited and waited, and it turned out that that was not to be, and I did not get into service during the war. After the war, however, I was quite keen on the Air Force, so I joined the Air Force Reserve and served for several years in that capacity. During that time, I continued studies and graduated with a PhD. in aerospace engineering. This gave me quite an opportunity to work on Air Force-related projects, and I worked as a civilian as a consulting officer for the Air Force and for the Navy. The opportunities were great and I had a great chance to work with air crew and with naval ships. During that experience, it was both as a reserve officer and an engineering consultant. I came to regard the work of people flying airplanes and driving ships as very interesting, so since I felt that I had missed the opportunity to get my wings, I collected wings that air crew people wore in the Air Force. In the displays I have here, I have a couple of framed examples of the various wings that air crew members in the Air Force wore. Pilot's wings, navigator's, bomb aimer's, air gunner's, wireless operator/air gunner's, flight engineer's, and the various variations on those, because the wings changed – wartime, they were half wings. Post war, all of the wings became full wings. The Army at that time also had their own wings – observer post (?), and glider pilots. The Navy post-war – Naval Air Service – also had wings. So there's quite an interesting spread of wings that various Canadian service people were able to wear. A lot of war-time Corvettes and Frigates are now represented by very nice, colourful badges that the Sea Cadets have evolved for their own use. I collect them as a display of a good sample of the Canadian ships that were in service during the war.
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