Language selection



Heroes Remember

Up to that point, I had never known any Black pilots in the military and it was a feeling of accomplishment, but it was sort of dampened because the night before we had a bit of a get together in the officer’s mess for the course. Sort of a course party, and we had a guest speaker that had been held in very high esteem by pilots because he had a Mustang and it was one of the, you know, one of the few that was still flying then and people, you know, sort of, people who were pilots knew the history of the Mustang and they sort of looked at this guy, you know, he flies Mustangs, still flies Mustangs. And he was a lawyer in Calgary and I remember standing at the bar listening to the stories he was telling and he turned to me and said, “What are you doing here?” And I said, “Well I was, I’m on the course that graduates tomorrow.” He said, “As what?” And I said, “As a pilot.” He said, “In my day,” he said, “you would never have got past rear gunner And it was interesting because in the war many of the rear gunner gunners were Blacks and it sort of, you know, I sort of smiled and, you know, what could I say? He was going to be the guest speaker at the banquet and so on so I didn’t say anything and sort of smiled and said, “Yeah, I’m graduating tomorrow.” The next day at the graduation he was there and he was going to be handing out some prizes and they called me up and he came up and they called out, “The winner of the City of Moose Jaw Saskatchewan Trophy is Flying Officer Walter Peters.” And this was for the highest flying marks, so I went up, shook his hand and I’m not sure that I was looking for a reaction or, but I can’t say that I really detected a reaction. But even the second time around because they called up the winner of the Province of Saskatchewan Trophy and it was Flying Officer Peters, and I went up and he presented me with that and there was sort of a little bit look of disbelief and then they announced the postings and they said, “Going to 101s are Jim Speizer, Flying Officer Speizer and Flying Officer Peters”, flying officer and a fellow by the name of Flying Officer Black. And I saw him later on during the day but we didn’t have any more conversations.

Mr. Peters discusses how his graduation from flying school is tainted by the racially inappropriate remarks and attitude of the guest presenter the night before.

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

Copyright / Permission to Reproduce

Related Videos

Date modified: