William Ellerbeck joined the Royal Canadian Legion at the age of 22. This month, the Mission resident celebrates his 70th year with the organization.
Ellerbeck was born in Manitoba and moved to B.C. with his family at the age of six.
He served in the army for a year before joining the merchant marines during World War II.
“All my friends joined the army, so I joined too,” recalled Ellerbeck, who is now 92.
But Ellerbeck decided he wanted to see the world and became a marine.
“It was lovely,” said Ellerbeck about his travels.
Ellerbeck worked as a fireman in the engine room department of his ship and spent a lot of time in the New Zealand area during the war.
“There were a lot of American service people there,” he recalled. “We helped the Americans with supplies. We were the only Canadian ship in New Zealand. The Americans were fighting the Japanese there.”
Following his post in New Zealand, Ellerbeck travelled to Pearl Harbour in 1945 after it was “smashed to pieces,” and then to China.
After the war, Ellerbeck returned to Mission where he got married in 1947 and started a family. He began a career in the logging industry and was an inspector for the Cedar Shake and Shingle Bureau.
Ellerbeck, who now lives in Carrington House, will recognize Nov. 11 from his home this year.
“I went (to the service) last year, but I can’t walk much anymore,” said Ellerbeck.
While Ellerbeck doesn’t make it out to many events at the legion any more, he is still proud to be a long-time member of the organization.