Korean War Legacy Project

Louis Joseph Bourgeois

Bio

Louis Bourgeois was born in 1931 in Saskatchewan, Canada.  He joined the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1952.  Louis Bourgeois was a member of the 426 Air Squadron, Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF).  During the Korean War, his unit provided airlift service for Canadian and U.S. troops, ammunition, and cargo into Korea.  The 426 Air Squadron also carried back wounded soldiers.  Louis Bourgeois spent 35 years with the RCAF.

Video Clips

The 426 RCAF Squadron

Louis Bourgeois played an important role in the 426 RCAF Squadron during the Korean War. On return trips to his military base, the aircraft brought back wounded soldiers. Their route to Asia typically started in Washington State before going to Alaska, and then onto Japan.

Tags: Front lines,Home front,Living conditions,Personal Loss,Pride,Weapons

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9nQi2fNQUvc&start=36&end=164

Becoming a Pilot

Louis Bourgeois always wanted to be a pilot because he knew he wanted to fly. On at least 2 occasions, the Royal Canadian Air Force cited his poor vision as a reason to not let him enlist. Because Louis Bourgeois went to University and he was persistent, eventually, he became a pilot.

Tags: Home front,Living conditions,Pride

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9nQi2fNQUvc&start=300&end=358

The Importance of Pilots During the Korean War

Louis Bourgeois also had 6 North Star Aircraft that went into Korea while others went to Japan. After the war, the planes were brought back to Canada to continue their airlift duties. He is so proud to be the president of the 426 Squadron to support fellow veterans who fought during the Korean War.

Tags: Front lines,Home front,Living conditions,Personal Loss,Pride,Weapons

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9nQi2fNQUvc&start=164&end=277

Video Transcript

[Beginning of recorded material]

L:        My  name is, uh, Louis Joseph Bourgeois, B-O-U-R-G-E-O-I-S.  I’m a former member of 426 Squadron.

I:          What is your birthday?
L:        Five April, 1931.

I:          Five April

L:        Nineteen thirty-one.

I:          Thirty-one.  Where were you born?
L:        Uh,  Aldina, Saskatchewan.

I:          Saskatchewan.

L:        Yes.

I:          Ah.

L:        In the praries.

I:          Yeah.

0:00:30

The, I am the President, the current President of the 426 Squadron Association.

I:          Um.  And could you tell me, explain to the audience that what does it mean by Hill 426 Squadron within the big picture of Canadian Air Force.  At the time in the Korean War and also from the contemporary perspective.

L:        Perhaps I can start from the formation of the squadron which was during the Second World War.  It was formed as a bomber squadron

I:          Um hm.

0:01:00

L:        After the War, it was transformed into a transportation squadron, and currently it is a training squadron.  During the, uh, Korean Uplift, uh, we were given the task of providing airlift service for the Canadian and American troops into Korea.

I:          Um hm.
L:        The, uh, squad, the government assigned

0:01:30

six Northstar Aircraft and the crews to, uh, proceed to Tacoma, Washington and to, uh, uh, join with the United States Air Force in the airlift to Korea.  Their purpose was to airlift, uh, ammunition

I:          Um hm.

L:        cargo and troops to, uh, Korea.  The, uh, route was from, uh, uh, Washington,

I:          Um hm.

0:02:00

L:        to Alaska an Elmindorf Air Force Base to Shemya in Alaska to Anita Airport.

I:          Um.

L:        And we first accept that once the, uh, into Anita the route occasionally changed, and the aircraft carried back wounded people.

I:          Woun, yes.

L:        Both American and Canadians via Hawaii to Tacoma where the, uh, bad, and we were provided nurses as well to look after

0:02:30

the, uh, wounded people.  And, and, uh, Tacoma, they transferred onto one, uh, Dakota Aircraft and then brought back into Canada.  The Americans, of course, looked after their own.

I:          Um hm.

L:        With that, we also had, uh, six aircraft, Northstar Aircraft, that actually went from Anita into Japan during that total airlift.  So when you do some of the itnerviews, you may find that some did go into, uh,

0:03:00

uh, Korea during the War, and some did not.

I:          Yes.

L:        Uh, after the War, the aircraft were brought back to Lachine.  That’s in Montreal and, uh, continued with the airlift service which the airlift  into all parts of the world, Arctic, everywhere around the world.  And that’s what they did for, uh, till 1961 when it was transformed to a training squad.    Currently we have 400  members

0:03:30

in the Association

I:          Um hm.

L:        Uh, both England, Canada, United States and, uh, some other Australian and, uh, New Zealander are, uh, part of the Association.

I:          Do you know roughly how many the Korean War veterans in your Association out of 400 members?  Do you know?  Roughly.

L:        I think, because of the age right now, I think what’s left, I think we have about 12.

I:          Twelve.

0:04:00

L:        I think maybe, maybe a little bit more.  But about 12 would be close to the figure.

I:          Um hm.  You live in Trenton, right?
L:        I live in Trenton, yes.
I:          Oh.  Do you , do you  have any idea of how many Korean War veterans altogether here in Trenton?

L:        Uh, uh, I think about six.  We just had a, uh, your, your Embassy in Ottawa distributed medals to the, uh,

I:          Peace Ambassador.

L:        Exactly.

I:          Yeah.

L:        And with that,

0:04:30

we had six here and a couple in the outlying areas.

I:          Um hm.  Tell me about  you.  When did you join the Air Force?

L:        I joined the Air Force in 1952.  And joined 437, 426 Squadron, sorry, in, uh, 1954.

I:          Um hm.

L:        Uh, then went back to University and came back in 1957 again on the Squad, 47th, uh. on 42, uh, 6 squadron.

I:          Um.

0:05:00

When did you retire from Air Force?
L:        Nineteen eighty-six, seven, sorry.  Nineteen eighty-seven.  Thirty-five years, uh, twenty-yeah, thirty-five years.

I:          So what is the impact of the Air Force to you personally?

L:        Well, I’ve always wanted to be in the Air Force.

I:          Why?

L:        Uh, well I was, ever since I was kneehigh to a grasshopper I’ve been wanting to fly.  And I did my own private flying in some little commercial flying before I joined the Air Force, uh, and, uh

0:05:30

I:          Oh, is that right?
L:        I, I want, when I finished high school, I tried to go into the Air Force and the, although I had a civilian license, they said I was blind and my limits, I was below the Air Force limits.  However, when I got to University, I tried again, and they said ok, we’ll take you in as a pilot.

I:          Wow.

L:        Then I started, and then they, uh, said well, your eyes are bad.  Will you be a nagivator?  And that’s what I did for thirty-five years in, in the Air Force.

I:          When did you innaugerate as President of, uh, 4, 426 Squadron Association?

0:06:00

L:        Uh, five years ago.

I:          Do you have annual meeting?
L:        We have a, uh, well, we have, uh, monthly meetings really.  But we have annuals, uh, every two years

I:          Every two

L:        We have a reunion, and one is coming up this year in August, uh.  We have, usually we have 100, 150 people come to the reunion.

I:          Where you gonna have it?

L:        Right here at the Air base.

I:          Ah.

L:        We use the facil, the base and the Active squadron

I:          Um hm.

L:        supports us.  They, uh, Active Squadron is now in the process of, uh,

0:06:30

thanks to the government, new facilities, new, uh, equipment and, uh, they’re doing a tremendous job on the air base.

I:          Great.  Do you want to have anything to say about the 426 Squadron in the Korean War, the role of

L:        No.  I just think that the, uh, the, uh, mission that they carried out was necessary and shows the interest

I:          Yeah.

L:        that Canada has in supporting their allies in case of, uh, need.

0:07:00

And we’ve demonstrated that, especially with the United Nations, uh, all around the world.

I:          Um hm.

L:        We’re in, uh, Egypt, North, 426 Squadron, uh, did most of the airlift for the, here in the UNEF, uh, Forces in, uh, in Egypt, uh, even in, matter of fact, in, uh, we did the airlifts into, uh, Vietnam, bring the people out.  So, uh, we’ve been, uh, very active in, for the United Nat ions as, as trans, Canada’s transport squadron.

0:07:30

I:          Um hm.

L:        Other squadrons have taken over now but until, uh, they became a training squadron, it was primary the airlift squadron for Canada.  But the 426 Squadron, there’s, uh, this, uh, airlift to, uh, uh, during the Korean Airlift.  It was called Operation Hawk.  And there is, uh, a little, uh, memento that was given to the squadron.  It is in their, uh, collection of their little museum.

0:08:00

I:          Thank you again.
L:        It was my pleasure.  Thank you.

[End of Recorded Material]