Bob Proctor was a hero before he joined the Royal Canadian Navy in 1944.
He was just 15 years old when he saved a boy from drowning in a river.
"I saw the boy was in trouble so I dove in. I could soon feel my legs begin to cramp to I grabbed him and pulled him to shore. I'll never forget that incident," he says. Barely three years later, in July of 1944, he enlisted at age 18.
Bob was born in January 8, 1926 in County Down, Northern Ireland and moved with his parents to Canada in 1930 where they settled in Fergus, Ontario. He enlisted in Hamilton on the HMCS Star. He began his basic training in Winnipeg, Manitoba and then was stationed in Cornwallis, Nova Scotia. He boarded the frigate HMCS La Hulloise and assigned convoy duty out of Halifax, Nova Scotia patrolling the North Atlantic Ocean.
"I was a look out on the ship. We had to watch for mines," he recalls. I guess lucky for us things were pretty uneventful. So many of friends were not so lucky."
Bob was discharged on April 16, 1946. And like so many who did come home from the war, he wondered about his future.
Returning to Fergus he found work with Beatty Brothers Limited. The company was known for manufacturing agricultural equipment and appliances such as washing machines.
"I worked at Beattys for 47 years."
Work wasn't all Bob found when he returned home from the war. In 1950, he met Annie and the two were married a year later. This past September, the couple celebrated their 68th wedding anniversary.
On leaving the navy, Bob joined the Royal Canadian Legion Elora Branch 29. He has been a member ever since and is proud of his involvement. "I have been a member now for 74 years. It is such an honour to be part of it."
Annie is a 54-year member of the Legion.
Remembrance Day is special to Bob. "It brings back old memories and I think of so many fellows I knew or had heard of who never came home. I am proud to have served my country."
Today, Bob lives at Caressant Care Fergus Retirement Home where he has been for the past four years. He is a delight to all who meet him and he is proud to wear his Legion uniform.
No less than five medals adorn his uniform. Testament to a hero whose story deserves to be told and to be heard.
We just need to listen.