Decorated military veteran and well-known Barrie resident Robert Middlemiss has died.

His military flying career spanned from 1940, shortly after the Second World War started, to 1969 - well into the jet age.

The people who knew Middlemiss the best say he was one of a kind, a true Canadian hero.

Middlemiss passed away on his 93rd birthday yesterday.

Today, he is being remembered as man who put his country first.

His list of accomplishments is long and impressive.

He flew the legendary Spitfire, destroyed several enemy aircraft and was even shot down during the Siege of Malta in 1942 after joining the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1940. He earned the Distinguished Flying Cross. Middlemiss retired from the RCAF as a wing commander in 1969.

In 2003, he became the Honorary Colonel of 427 Tactical Helicopter Squadron in Petawawa. And in 2009, he ran the Canadian Winter Olympic Torch to the stage at Barrie City Hall to light the cauldron.

“He’s a true Canadian. He’s war hero,” says friend Rob Warman. “He has lived a life not many of us have been able to take into account. The City of Barrie is certainly losing a great citizen.”

Warman was with Middlemiss last night when he passed away.

CTV Barrie’s Bob McIntyre was also a friend, with a love of planes in common.

They were both selected to be Honorary Colonels.

“Bob Middlemiss was just a wonderful, wonderful man,” McIntyre says. “He was everything you’d want as a man. He was everything you’d want as a pilot. He was a terrific individual.”

CFB Borden outgoing base commander Col. Tammy Harris says Middlemiss’s death is a loss to all Canadians.

“I got to know him. He became my hero, and in the end I can say he was a close personal friend,” Harris says.

Barrie MP Patrick Brown wrote on Facebook that Middlemiss is a legend of Canadian aviation heritage. A museum display was unveiled at CFB Borden’s Military Museum in 2011 celebrating Middlemiss’s air force career and his achievements as a Second World War fighter pilot.

“Barrie has lost a great man and community leader,” Brown wrote. “He will be sadly missed.”

Middlemiss is survived by two sons. So far, there have been no official funeral plans made. The base says it plans to honour him in the coming months with a celebration of his life.