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Bradford West Gwillimbury celebrates 100th anniversary of the Royal Canadian Air Force

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2024 marks the 100th anniversary of the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF), and the Town of Bradford West Gwillimbury wrapped up a week of festivities with a once-in-a-century celebration on Friday.

On the ground, it began with a parade straight down Holland Street West as hundreds of Canadian military personnel and community members marched through the town.

Among those marching was retired Lieutenant-Colonel Bill Sergeant, who first joined the RCAF in 1972 as an aerospace engineer.

"It warms my heart to see so many people from so many disciplines within the armed forces, the police, the cadets -- which are the future of the armed forces -- here this morning to help us celebrate this milestone," said Sergeant.

In the air, there were special flyovers by four World-War-1 aircraft during the parade, leaving streaks of aerobatic contrails across the sky.

Then, shortly after the parade disbanded at the Bradford West Gwillimbury Public Library, a dozen Canadian SkyHawks Parachute Team members performed a sequenced jump from 6,000 feet while carrying Canadian flags.

"It is an honour and a privilege to be here as part of the SkyHawks, jumping for the RCAF and for the town of Bradford," said Corporal Benjamin Barrett, one of the jumpers.

The afternoon concluded with a special ceremony. Bradford Mayor James Leduc presented the town's keys to Lieutenant-Colonel Terry Wong, who accepted them on the RCAF's behalf.

"The RCAF is honoured and I am honoured to be here representing the RCAF to accept the keys to the [Town] for this occasion," said Lieutenant-Colonel Wong.

The town's festivities for the RCAF's centennial were the vision of long-time Bradford resident and retired Lieutenant-Colonel Ferguson Mobbs, who first brought his ideas to Mayor Leduc in the Fall of 2023.

"I'm thrilled with the turnout," said Mobbs. It exceeded my expectations. It just shows you that people from Bradford want to celebrate and appreciate the Royal Canadian Air Force."

Mayor Leduc called it a historic moment. "Being the 100th centennial anniversary of the RCAF out of Base Borden which is in Simcoe County. We're in Simcoe County. I was delighted to be able to do this," he stated.

The RCAF will continue commemorating its 100th anniversary with more celebrations across the country throughout the rest of the year.

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