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Heroes Remember

Everybody was there with the objective of getting through and I was fortunate in that, as I mentioned earlier, I was one of the older ones because I joined later and it served me in good stead because I could comfort the younger ones when they started to panic and then just tell them, you know, things will get better. There's going to be good days. There's going to be bad days. That's just the way life is and just keep plugging away. But eventually we all got through and the numbers are interesting. In the first selection we went down to Centralia for the first selection. There were a hundred candidates and they range from high school students to college students to military college students. When the process was over, there were fifty left. When we went to, we started the intake with fifty for officer training and by the time we had finished the basic training, there were twenty-five left and this continued right up to the day we graduated. On our graduation day there were two of us from the original intake that graduated. So the success rate was two percent. It took quite a while before the military realized that they could not sustain such an attrition rate and that they had to have a better selection process. They had to coach and give additional opportunities to those who didn't make it on the first time. I recently went back and worked on a project for NATO flying training in Canada in Moose Jaw where we were training the NATO fighter pilots and the attrition rate at this point is probably less than five percent, so that's quite an improvement from the ninety-eight percent failure rate to the ninety-five percent success rate.

Mr. Peters compares the high level of attrition during his era of training to that of the present day Air Force.

Walter Peters

Walter Peters, the youngest of six children, was born in Litchfield, Nova Scotia in 1937. A graduate of Mount Allison University, he worked for the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation before enlisting in the Royal Canadian Air Force at age twenty-four and entering pilot training. After receiving his commission and wings, Mr. Peters enjoyed a distinguished career on many levels. He was Canada’s first black jet fighter pilot and an A1 flying instructor. He was involved in the development of the Snowbirds and later flew with them. At Trenton, Mr. Peters piloted Hercules cargo aircraft on assorted missions around the globe, and it was here that he also became the Canadian Armed Forces’ first Human Rights Officer. As advisor to the United Nations Security Council, Mr. Peters offered advice on the tactical movement of troops by air, and analysed and briefed the Council after the Russian shootdown of a Korean civilian jet in 1983. He retired holding the rank of Major.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Walter Peters
War, Conflict or Mission:
Canadian Armed Forces
Air Force

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