by Rhonda Massad
Flying officer Bob Benedetti signed up to the Canadian Air Force in 1956 at 19 years. He was a licensed pilote and wanted to fly more so it seemed like a perfect plan. What followed was two years of intense training starting out with a group of 260 potential Air Force Pilotes with a final 30 that made it the whole way through training.
In 1958, based in Marville, France, his squadron, trained to fly CF-100 all weather fighter jets, was one of the first to be deployed to Europe during the cold war. The CF-100, designed to fight particularly at night, carried 58 rockets on board and eight 50 caliber machine guns. According to Benedetti, it was a big plane that was worth a cool $1.5 million in the late 1950s. The squadron’s was the largest peacetime show of force ever deployed with 300 planes and more than 10,000 airmen deployed over four bases west of the Iron Curtain.
“We would be nose to nose with the Russian bombers that would fly right up to the border,” Benedetti explained in an interview with The Suburban, “we would go up and stare back in a game of chicken. They would have crossed had we not been there. Our job was to keep them away from crossing into free democracy.”
“I was young and indestructible, we all were. I was happy to serve. I feel it made me a better Canadian,” he remembered,” before i was deployed, I would hear the national anthem sung at school and at the hockey games. After serving it meant so much more to me. I became more patriotic. Service is good for young people.”
Today, former Beaconsfield Mayor is actively involved in the community. He is a member of the Train de l’ouest committee, a board member at West Island community resources centre and a member of the steering committee for the Concertation West Island.