With classic cars lining the street near his home near Little River, Tom Shaw smiled as neighbours waved and took pictures.
The Second World War veteran who served in the Royal Canadian Air Force celebrated his 99th birthday July 16, surrounded by friends, families, and even a well-timed flyover by an Aurora aircraft landing at nearby 19 Wing Comox.
“Next year, we’ll get the Snowbirds,” he said with a laugh.
Shaw’s children – Sue and Ken – organized a car parade with help from the Comox Valley Classic Cruisers, (of which Ken is a member), and celebrated their father’s special day with some time at the beach and a homemade dinner.
Shaw, who spent time in Leeds and Manchester during the war, explained he has never forgotten his time serving his country.
“I was in the Bomber Command for about four years. It was very interesting – I’ve never forgotten it; we had the Lancaster and Halifax bombers.”
Shaw was born in Manchester and said he “kind of felt at home over there,” when he returned to serve.
“I was like old Stocky Edwards – he was over there too. We were in the same outfit, the same war but different places. I don’t think we ever (crossed paths).”
Starting his military career in Vancouver, Shaw eventually made his way to Saskatchewan – an experience he didn’t enjoy.
“I didn’t like it there. That’s when I volunteered to go over. When I was (there), they gave me all of these clothes. Half of it was underwear. I figured, ‘what the heck is this? I’m from the West Coast, I don’t need this.’ I soon found out it got to 40 below.”
In 1967, Shaw accepted his last posting at CFB Comox. At the time, the family was in Nova Scotia and they drove across Canada to Vancouver Island.
“They made a big holiday for that when we drove out because that was the year of the Expo – we stopped in Montreal and different places along the way and it was a big deal when we came out,” said Sue Davies, Shaw’s daughter.
Following his military career, the Shaws decided to call Comox home.
“This is heaven here – this is the only place to be,” Shaw added with a smile.