With big eyes filled with curiosity, young ones gathered around Aldin Foy yesterday morning as he showed them the medals he was awarded for his military service to Canada.
With Remembrance Day nearing, the local veteran was making a return visit to the Zaagi-idiwin Aboriginal Head Start/Best Start Hub here to speak with the children about serving in two wars.
“I just enjoy it, I just love it,” Foy said about why he was back for a second-straight year to spend time with the youngsters and answer any questions they have.
“I’d sooner come here and sit here with the kids than go to any other place,” he remarked.
“It’s just beautiful.”
Now going on 83, Foy is a veteran of both World War II and the Korean War—one of the dwindling number of Canadian veterans left from that time period.
Sitting around in a circle, the children had the opportunity to ask Foy questions about why he signed up, what his medals were for, what the symbol of the poppy meant, and what he did as part of his service to the country.
For example, Foy told the children how he first enrolled in the army in 1944 despite only being 17 years old.
“Everybody was in the army and I wanted to go into the army,” he explained.
“I wanted to be in there.”
But before he could be sent off overseas, Foy said his grandmother found out where he was and put the “kibosh” to it.
Foy’s time in the service wasn’t over, though, and in 1950 he signed up for the Korean War—and accidentally ended up as a paratrooper.
“In signing papers, I was paying no attention to what I was signing, I just signed them,” he explained.
Foy hadn’t realized it at the time, but it turns out he had signed the paperwork to be a paratrooper.
And it was either be one—or go to jail, he was told.
“Nobody was any more scared than I was up there,” Foy said about his time spent as a paratrooper, estimating he must have made close to 100 jumps.
“They guy who was giving the training, the sergeant, he had made a jump in France during the war and he knew he was doing, and he told me that he was going to make a paratrooper out of me even if it killed him,” he recalled.
One of the really scary jumps, Foy recounted, was a water jump, where they had to release themselves from the parachute at a certain point while in the air and “slide” into the lake.
“I’m telling you that water is hard,” he remarked.
“They had boats out there picking people up,” he added. “I was the first to be picked up—I think I was unconscious.”
Foy was discharged from the army in May, 1953.
Now living on Couchiching First Nation, he was married to his wife, Florence, who many may know for her involvement with the United Native Friendship Centre here, for 51 years before her passing.
There’s “way over 70 in the family now, and still growing,” Foy noted, which includes grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
It’s important for the little ones to hear Foy’s story about fighting for Canada and what he did, said Charity McMahon of the Zaagi-idiwin Aboriginal Head Start/Best Start Hub.
“That’s why we like [him] coming—[he’s] like a role model for the children,” she reasoned.
“When you talk about the army, [the children] think it’s just guns—that’s what these little ones associate with it.
“They don’t really have an idea of what it means because they’re so little,” she added.
“So having him come in it kind of puts a more realistic spin on what it means, and what Remembrance Day is about,” McMahon said.