Veteran Stories:
Bud Berntson

Air Force

  • A pair of World War II issue Air Force flying gloves.

    A pair of World War II issue Air Force flying gloves.
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My name is Edward Berntson, but I go by Bud in my family, and all the folks in the military that know me. I was raised in a small farm community out in Saskatchewan, and back in about 1955, I noticed an advertisement that said, "Join the Air Force, become a pilot, go to university and get paid fifty dollars a month, all at the same time," and I thought that was one hell of a deal, so I inquired and found out it was the regular Officer Training Program that they had at that time. I applied for it, and went in to see if I was going to be selected. Out of about three thousand applicants, only six hundred were selected that year, so I was told, "You're great to be a pilot, but you're not going to go to university," and I sort of declined the offer. But when things got cold that fall, I thought maybe I could smoke through a few months of working in an office, or pounding a parade square – whatever I was going to do until the weather warmed up and I could go back to working on the farm or the oil rigs out on the prairies.

They took me in. Didn't make me a pilot, but made me a navigator to begin with, flying in the back of CF-100s and then Voodoos. I finally got to be selected for a pilot in 1967, and continued that until I was released in '93 and joined the Reserves, and ran the cadet gliding school in Atlantic provinces for the next ten years after that. So my few months to get away from the cold weather in the prairies spun out into a career of almost forty-seven years, of being a back-seater in all-weather interceptors, being a front-seater in fighters like the F5 and the 104. Lots of staff jobs, and a total of fourteen years spent in various flying and staff jobs in Europe and all over Canada. So the little prairie boy from Saskatchewan had a pretty long and extensive career.

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