RCAF veteran’s wife recalls service on a forgotten wartime front line

Mildred Kennedy’s family served Canada in its armed forces, but few noticed.

“It was lonely,” she said.

Mildred Kennedy is the widow of Gottfried Kennedy, a Royal Canadian Air Force photographer, who served in the military in 1967, during the Cold War in the Canadian Arctic. The Kennedys chose to be together as a family during Gottfried’s time in the service. Despite living nearby, it was still hard not to have the father of the family home every day.

“We were stationed in the far North for two years, just south of the DEW (Distant Early Warning) line,” Mildred Kennedy said.

As Remembrance Day approaches, Mildred Kennedy has reminisced about her family’s active role in the service. Despite the cold and the isolation, Mildred Kennedy said having the family together served as company and emotional support for both her and her husband.

The role of the RCAF, at the time, was to patrol the Arctic portion of Canada, and detect any incoming Soviet planes, at the height of the Cold War period.

Despite the risks involved accompanying RCAF bombers on operations in the North and not knowing if or when an enemy might attack, Mildred Kennedy said her husband seemed to enjoy his work as official RCAF photographer.

Mildred Kennedy is aware of the sacrifices that veterans have made throughout Canada’s military involvement endeavours and she believes that Canadians learn more each year.

“I think more and more people are realizing just what everybody sacrificed,” Kennedy said. “During the First World War and the Second World War, we have had tremendous losses, and people need to remember.”