Herbert Schuppert worked for the pipeline that ran from Edmonton to Sarnia. After moving to B.C. he worked at the Shell Oil in the refinery. As a hobby, he taught people to fly.
He’s lived in Langley for 39 years.
“Where Willowbrook Mall is, when we moved to Langley, there were cows in the pasture,” he said. “The changes we’ve seen, my wife and I, the horse and buggy and now the Telsa,” he said.
On his iPhone, he keeps a photo of the armoured car he drove during World War II. His photo now adorns one of the new Remembrance Day banners soon to appear on light standards around Langley City’s downtown.
“It’s wonderful. I like to see so many that were here today that their banners are up there,” he said.
He joined the military at age 17 and went overseas at 18, around 1941.
“They issued me a great big car and told me I’d better learn all about it because when things started to happen, I’d probably wish I had,” he said.
He arrived in Europe about 30 days after D-Day and would be there for almost five years.
“Our regiment was a reconnaissance [unit] so that meant everyday we were front line, looking for trouble. We always found it,” he explained.
He drove the five-man armoured car all the way from Juneau Beach in France into Germany.
They would get into a dangerous area quickly, get their reconnaissance information and get out. The vehicles had a top speed of 60 miles per hour with twin engines, automatic transmissions and power steering.
If anything goes wrong while inside the armoured car, it was typically fatal, he explained.
Schuppert is one of the local veterans still alive to see their photos included in the second campaign of the local banner program.
The Downtown Langley Business Association (DLBA) put out the call and liaised with community groups such as Langley Lodge when organizing this second group of banners.
The program started a decade ago when the business group was approached by a local photographer who suggested banners with photos of local vets, DLBA executive director Teri James said.
The City has banners it hangs on local light standards and switches them out depending on the season.
The DLBA organized and funded the veteran banner project with the City handling installation and removal for a period around Remembrance Day.
“Of all the projects, events, and promotions the DLBA does every year, this is the one that touches my heart the most,” James said.
“I believe we were the first community to do this in B.C., and it has since been duplicated in a number of other communities. I have willingly shared my contacts and strategies for this project with other communities because I think honouring our veterans in this way is a lovely way to commemorate them. The families are always very touched, and I receive dozens of emails and phone calls every year from people thanking us for doing this.”
This time around, Langley Lodge participated as it’s home to a handful of veterans and the lodge hosted the unveiling ceremony for them, and other local vets, as well as the families. One resident, Marion Blair, was photographed but passed away before the unveiling.
Military veteran Ian Newby, owner of International Movie Services in Aldergrove, provided uniforms for the photos since most veterans and families still have the medals earned, but not the clothing worn.
“I served 28 years in the forces and three years as a civilian volunteer with the RCAF. Nobody really shot at me in anger,” he explained… “You people paid the price… ”
He said the work he does, preserving artifacts such as military vehicles and clothing, is done to honour veterans.
“For those of you who served in the Great One, thank you. We owe you a lot,” Newby said.