Fly along with Canada’s CF–100 and CF–101 crews as they maintain combat-readiness during the uncertain days of the Cold War in Night Fighters: Stories from the Flyers of Canada’s All-Weather Fighter Force Canada and Europe 1953 to 1984, compiled by John Eggenberger, Bob Merrick, and Doug Munro.
The vignettes range from the sublime to the ridiculous in this banquet of true stories told by those who watched over Canada’s and NATO’s airspace during the crucial years of the Cold War. Whether scrambling to intercept a “Bear”, taking part in realistic exercises to maintain their combat readiness, flying in the daily training adventures, or thrilling airshow crowds with thunderous formation displays, these flyers were constantly honing their arcane skills. But, there were always the fun times, friends and laughter.
About The Editors
After high school, John Eggenberger worked for the next five years as a roughneck in the oil fields of Alberta. In 1955, the “oil patch” was in a bust cycle, which led John to join the RCAF and eventually the 409 AWF Sqn at Comox, BC. At the end of his 409 tour in 1959, John won one of three RCAF highly prized postings: a DEW Line tour at PIN, Cape Parry. On surviving this idyllic, year-long tour, John was reintroduced to the CF–100 at the OTU at Cold Lake, and this time lucked out with a posting to 445 AWF Sqn, located at 1 Wing, Marville, France. When the CF–100 was removed from fighter squadron status, John was transferred to 2 Wing, Gros Tenquin, France, as the Wing Intelligence Officer. However, the arrival of the CF–104 into RCAF NATO operations changed the landscape, and John was assigned as the senior project officer of the recently formed Radar Prediction Unit at 2 Wing. However, after Charles DeGaulle kicked NATO out of France, the RPU, along with John, was moved to 3 Wing, and shortly thereafter to 4 Wing in Baden Soellingen, Germany.
After a couple of years in 4 Wing, in 1965 John resigned in order to go back to school in Calgary. Upon being invited to rejoin the RCAF two years later, John returned to flying as a radar/inertial navigation instructor at the CF–104, 6 Strike/Reconnaissance OTU, Cold Lake. During the next five years John toiled at Cold Lake and the University of Calgary. Thereafter, John got lost in a maze of staff jobs here and there, retiring from the Armed Forces in 1981 to a job as VP Human Resources with the Pulp and Paper Research Institute in Point Claire, PQ.
John left the workforce in 1995 and moved to Elliot Lake, Ontario, and, after living contentedly in Victoria, BC, from 2000 to 2010, now lives in Ottawa with his wife and camp follower, Mary, who, as John’s schoolmate in Grade 1 in Northern Alberta, and many, many years later in Comox, has shown that she is really tougher than tough.
Bob Merrick joined the RCAF in 1956, trained as an air intercept navigator, and was posted to 432 Squadron flying CF–100s at RCAF Station Bagotville. After that tour, he was moved to Test flight, also at BG. From there, he was moved to 447 (SAM) Squadron at RCAF Station La Macaza, where he babysat Bomarcs. His next posting was to the EWU detachment at RCAF Station Comox, and when that detachment folded, he was moved to 409 Squadron, also at Comox. From there, he went to 58th Tac Training Wing, instructing on F–4s at Luke Air Force Base. The payback for that was another tour at Bagotville, this time to 410 OTS, instructing on the CF–101. From there, he was posted to NDHQ, where he finished his air force career. He then went with Transport Canada, mostly in Aviation Safety Programs, for twelve years. He and his wife Barb now live in Orleans, Ontario.
Doug Munro joined the RCAF in 1951. He was commissioned and received his nav wings in November 1952. His flying career was, if not unique, certainly unusual. He graduated from seven Operational Training Units (OTUs).
First came the Maritime OTU on Lancasters at RCAF Station Greenwood, NS, followed by a Lanc tour at 407 Squadron, Comox, BC (QQ). Next to the AW(F) OTU on CF–100s at RCAF Station Cold Lake, AB, and then to 409 Squadron on CF–100s at QQ. Next he completed the CF 100 OTU again — this time at Bagotville, QC (BG), only to have the great good fortune to have his posting to Europe cancelled. As a reward, he then completed the CF–101 OTU at BG, followed by a tour on CF–101s at 416 Squadron, Chatham, NB. A tour at the Air Navigation School, RCAF Winnipeg, MB, wedged its way between squadron tours. Then, in rapid succession, to the CF–101 OTU, followed a tour at 409 Squadron, QQ, and once more to the CF–101 OTU and a tour at 425 Squadron, Bagotville, BG. Now, for something a bit different, he completed the Hercules OTU at CFB Trenton and a posting to the Air Navigation School at CFB Winnipeg.
All was not fun and games. In 1958, he was posted to a darling little radar base in Northern Quebec (Mont Apica) as a GCI controller. Training for this position entailed a sixteen-week course at Tyndall AFB, Panama City, Florida. A candidate with Doug’s background should have been able to ace the course in four or five weeks. This posting was twelve months long. His next base was RCAF Base Falconbridge, ON. He had struck gold. The base nursing sister swept Doug off his feet. Forty-eight years have passed and counting.
In 1971, Doug was the recipient of a mixed blessing. He lost thirteen years’ seniority, received a ten dollar raise, was promoted to major, and was posted to a year at DEW Line Station Dyer (on Baffin Island). In 1972, he was posted to the Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C. as Staff Officer Training and Visits. It almost made up for Cape Dyer.
Rather than risk another OTU, Doug took early retirement. In 1982, Doug was called to the Manitoba Bar. He retired from the practice of law in 1997 — a pleasant way to say adieu.