Focus on veterans urged

A history teacher on call with School District 67 wants students to learn about the soldiers who served during World War II before it is too late.

Bob McCutcheon of Summerland served in World War II as an air gunner. He died on D-Day.

Bob McCutcheon of Summerland served in World War II as an air gunner. He died on D-Day.

A history teacher on call with School District 67 wants students to learn about the soldiers who served during World War II before it is too late.

World War II lasted from 1939 to 1945. While there are still veterans from that war, their numbers are dwindling.

“We have about five to seven years left,” said Tammy MacKinley. “When this history is gone, it’s gone forever.”

MacKinley toured war sites in Europe earlier this year, along with 12 other Canadian teachers through the Historica-Dominion Institute.

She said the signs of the two world wars are still present in Belgium and northern France, but easy to ignore in Canada.

“We need to make it tangible for the kids,” she said.

Before the tour, she took time to study Bob McCutcheon, one of the Summerland soldiers who died during the war. She presented his story at his grave in Bayeaux, France.

McCutcheon was an orchardist in Summerland before joining the air force where he served as an air gunner with an international crew.

He left for England in October, 1943, just days after he had been married.

He died on D-Day, June 6, 1944, when his crew was sent to take out German 88s at Omaha Beach. Of the 18 planes in his squadron, two did not return to England that day.

McCutcheon’s widow later married his younger brother.

Anyone who has more information on McCutcheon’s story is asked to call MacKinley at 250-494-9305.

She would also like to meet with other veterans as well as with those who have firsthand experiences of the war to discuss their experiences.

She hopes to show a presentation to students in fall and compile something for the veterans for Remembrance Day.

“We only remember an hour a year,” she said. “I think we can do better for our veterans.”