'A real pride': Second World War veteran in Coquitlam joined by two generations in uniform
COQUITLAM, B.C. - Second World War veteran John "Doc" Cumbers has lived a life of service. From his time in the Air Force and navy, to his career as a firefighter and ongoing volunteer work, it’s a calling that’s become a family legacy.
At Remembrance Day ceremonies in Coquitlam on Monday, Cumbers was joined by his great-grandson, Alexander Thomas, and Thomas’s grandmother Joy Dockrey – both in uniform.
“This is a real pride,” Cumbers said.
Thomas is a Corporal with the Air Force, and works as an aircraft mechanic in the same squadron his great-grandfather once flew with.
“The squadron way back then was serving a different purpose, under the Halifax bomber. We have since reformed under search and rescue now,” Thomas said. He is stationed in Trenton, Ont. with 424 Search and Rescue squadron, but heads west every Nov. 11 to be with Cumbers.
“It’s incredible, every year we have fewer veterans," Thomas said. "I want to make the most of it, be there with him."
Dockrey served in the navy, and is currently the co-ordinator for the Lower Mainland Aboriginal Veterans Association. She calls Cumbers “living history.”
“He flew 30 bomb raids over Germany and usually they retire them when they’ve done 10. He was a rear gunner,” Dockrey said.
“He’s very humble. And, as is typical, they often don’t talk about all that they saw and did.”
A large crowd turned out for the annual ceremony, which included a march to the cenotaph, where Cumbers was joined by Thomas to lay a wreath on behalf of Second World War veterans.
“To me, it just means family in the biggest sense of the word with a capital F. Family my military family. We are a family,” Dockrey said.
Cumbers said the big turnout means a lot to him, too.
“It just makes you feel good, that’s all.”