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Photos: A touching tribute to the victims of the Plane Crash of 1946

Cairn was unveilled to the 21

ESTEVAN - The tributes continued Saturday for the victims of an airplane crash that occurred in 1946 south of Estevan.

Twenty-one members of the Royal Canadian Air Force – 20 pilots and one crew member – died in the crash that occurred on Sept. 15, 1946. In recent years, there has been a renewed effort to remember the 21 men, including a monument carved by sculptor Darren Jones, and a book, Together Forever in the Clouds, written by local author Marie Donais Calder. 

A cairn was unveilled Saturday afternoon at a site south of Estevan that is very close to where the plane crash occurred. A large crowd, including family members of the 21 men who died, were in attendance. 

Grandchildren of the plane crash victims who attended the ceremony participated in the unveilling, which has a tribute and the photos and names of the 21 RCAF members. And the children airmen at the ceremony placed a wreath at the cairn.

Numerous other family members were present.

Local author Marie Donais Calder, who has been trying to create awareness of the crash, discussed the history of the cairn. Her daughter read the names of the 21 airmen who died. Elder James McArthur of the Pheasant Rump First Nations provided a blessing for the site.

Other speakers included Lt.-Col. Mario Charron, the Deputy Wing Commander from 15 Wing in Moose Jaw; Wayne Younghusband, the nephew of Harry Cowan, one of the victims of the crash; Troy LeBlanc with the Estevan branch of the Royal Canadian Legion; and representatives of SaskPower, the City of Estevan and the RM of Estevan, whose support helped make the cairn possible.  

There were also to flypasts during the event: one with aircraft from the Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum in Brandon, Man.; and the other being two RCAF CT-156 Harvard II from 2 Canadian Forces Flying Training School at 15 Wing Moose Jaw.

After the ceremony, people were encouraged to go to the Estevan Regional Airport, where they could view and take rides in a Cornell or a Harvard aircraft. The Estevan Flying Club held its annual fly-in and lunch. 

Saturday's activities concluded three days of events. Family members of victims of the plane crash met with Lieutenant Governor Russ Mirasty on Thursday in Regina. On Friday, there were tours of Lester Hinzman's home, which contains a number of military tributes, and a presentation by local military historian Craig Bird at the Royal Canadian Legion's Estevan branch. A supper was held for the family members at the legion. 

Next week's edition of the Mercury will have more on this story.