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Veterans' Stories Told

November 18th, 2014

Brief notes in The (Peace River) Record Gazette give a glimpse of the heroism, sacrifice and true grit of three Second World War veterans who now call Points West Living home. The notes were submitted by family members for the paper’s Remembrance Day special. 

The three men sat together in the front row as General Manager Brendan King led Points West Living Peace River in a Remembrance Day Tribute on November 11. They are, Thomas Screpnek, Mitch Boychuk, and Thomas Tackaberry.

Thomas Screpnek served from 1939 to 1943 until he was severely wounded in Ortona Italy, losing the use of his left hand. When he returned to Canada, he married his sweetheart Irene and purchased land. He farmed that five sections on his own, and reputedly was able to shovel grain faster with one hand than his nephew did with two. The family says, “We all love him for what he did for our country. May he be blessed for this; our hero.”

Mitch Boychuk also served in the army from 1939 to 1943. When he came back to Alberta, he purchased some land and started farming. He married Anne Dedick, and together they had five sons and one daughter. To support his family, he worked on oil rigs in the winter and farmed in the summer.

Thomas Tackaberry was a WWII fighter pilot, serving in England (145 squadron) in 1941, when “things looked very bleak for the Allies,” writes his son John Tackaberry. John goes on to describe the planes, the air battles and the places Thomas served. In North Africa, Thomas flew a Kitthawk, which he had named “Belle of Grimshaw”. To view John’s full note which is full of wonderful detail, please link to the photo gallery on Flickr: Veterans’ Stories Told.

Truman Biggs's widow Mary Biggs also lives at PWL Peace River and submitted her story of Truman’s wartime experience. He enlisted in 1940, and with very little training was quickly send to England where he soon boarded a ship to Sicily. The fighting there was severe, and Truman drove a supply truck, which doubled as a wounded troop carrier. Over the remainder of the war years, he saw action in Italy, France, and was in Holland when the war ended.

As John Tackaberry says, “These old veterans… were once vibrant young men who risked everything so that we can enjoy the freedom we have today. We will forever be in their debt.”

Photo: Thomas Screpnek, second from left, Mitch Boychuk and Thomas Tackaberry take in the PWL Peace River Remembrance Day Tribute. Mary Biggs (wearing a beige cardigan) is seated behind them in the second row.

View the families' notes and more photos of the service at Flickr: Veteran's Stories Told

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