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Cadets honour WW2 Air Commodore with tree planting for Air Force centennial

A century of service to Canada by the RCAF and a tribute to a WW2 hero has now become part of the natural landscape of Calgary’s southeast.

Royal Canadian Air Force Cadets planted a tree and flower tribute to Air Commodore Arthur Dwight Ross on Oct. 16, as part of a recognition of the upcoming centennial of the Royal Canadian Air Force.

A total of 75 maple trees and dwarf spruce trees were used to create the living memorial in the shape of the RCAF roundel. The cadets also planted tulip bulbs as part of the memorial because of their historic connection to the RCAF, and the sacrifice of some 7,500 Canadians that fought to liberate the Netherlands.

“To have this memorial be placed in A.D Ross Park, with the Cadets involved in the planting, is extremely special,” said Captain Aaron Niles, Strategic Planner and Public Affairs Officer for the RCAF 2024 Centennial Team.

Ross served for over 30 years in the RCAF, including a stay in Calgary in 1940 as Wing Commander to 3 Service Flying Training School. He was best known for his gallantry which cost him an arm in 1944, when he braved a burning aircraft laden with exploding bombs to rescue two aircrew.

Capt. Niles said that when Ross passed in 1981, his obituary request was to have donations made to the Air Cadet League of Canada.

“Many residents of The City of Calgary have served in the Royal Canadian Air Force, fighting for our Canadian values. Their relentless, steadfast, and noble efforts tie them profoundly to the Royal Canadian Air Force of today,” he said.

“May the memories of all those who have, and continue to serve in the Royal Canadian Air Force, live on in spirit through this memorial, as we continue to build towards a more sustainable future.”

The City of Calgary said that the trees that were planted would take advantage of the enhanced soil that was added to the park.

Watering and weeding are planned for the next half-decade to help establish the trees and the tulips in the park.

“Planting more trees in public spaces also supports The City’s goals to increase Calgary’s urban tree canopy by nine per cent by 2026 and 16 per cent in the future,” said the City of Calgary.

“An increased tree canopy provides more homes for wildlife, birds and insects; reduces soil erosion; keeps urban environments cooler; captures carbon and absorbs pollutants.”