A Former Member's Prolonged Efforts
In Support Of A War Hero's Memorial
Former member of the Canadian Provost Corps, Sergeant Don Mackey, is shown on the left (all decked out in his former battle dress
uniform with C Pro C accrutrements) posing in front of the Sergeant Tommy Prince mural that is located at the corner of Selkirk Ave
and Sgt Tommy Prince St in Winnipeg, MB.
Don established the fund for the Sgt Tommy Prince Memorial in Winnipeg some 16 years ago in order to assist Veterans in his area that were sufferring from what we now know to be Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which of course Sgt Tommy Prince, MM sufferred from, having died and was buried in perpetual poverty. How such a national disgrace can occur in a Country such as Canada is almost beyond belief and little has changed even to this day as there are still many troubled and homeless Veterans in this Country.
A NEWS release prepared by Don Mackey and issued in March 2013 is outlined below which reveals the great contribution that he has made over this past sixteen years in support of one of Canada's WWII and Korean War heros. Bravo Zulu Don!
Photo was submitted by former member of the C Pro C, retired sergeant Don Mackey of Winnipeg, MB who is one of few who can likely still squeeze into their old uniforms following 25 or more years of retirement. Brings back a lot of memories Don!
(NEWS Release issued by former Provost Sergeant Don Mackey fo Winnipeg, MB:in March 2013.)
When Donald Mackey started fundraising for a monument to honour war hero Sgt. Tommy Prince, he had no idea he'd still be doing it 16 years later.
Why would he?
It's hard to imagine there are people who would continuously vandalize the monument to the point where it not only needs to be extensively repaired, but reinforced so it can no longer be toppled.
It was June 2007 when, after years of organizing and raising money, Mackey's efforts led to a granite monument being erected at a North End park named for Prince, Canada's most decorated aboriginal soldier.
The monument contained replicas of Prince's 11 medals, including the Military Medal awarded by the Canadian government and the Silver Star awarded by the American government. King George VI presented the medals to Prince at Buckingham Palace in London.
The monument was in place for just over a year when thieves drilled through the Plexiglas to cut out the medals from the 600-pound granite memorial, located at Battery Street and Selkirk Avenue. Weeks later, when word got out the miniature medals were worthless, they were discovered near the monument.
"What we did then was have Eden (Memorials) fill in the holes and etch in the medals," said Mackey, a veteran who is chair of the Sgt. Tommy Prince Memorial Fund.
Sadly, that didn't bring an end to the vandalism.
The monument was damaged twice in 2009 and 2010 when thugs toppled it over. Since then it's been back at Eden Memorials, while Mackey attempts to raise more money to repair and reinforce it. This time it will have a new base with reinforced bars that will be drilled into the granite, making it more difficult for vandals to knock it over.
"Eden Memorials is doing some work on it and then it has to be shipped to Quebec to be resurfaced," Mackey said. "The surface is made of black marble."
The vandals haven't stopped at the monument. A mural honouring Prince on Selkirk Avenue has been targeted as well. Nobody has ever been charged, Mackey said.
Prince was a member of the 1st Special Service Force, a joint Canadian-American commando unit known as the Devil's Brigade, in the Second World War. He also served two tours in Korea.
Mackey, a retired military police officer, met Prince in 1953. He was compelled to honour Prince after watching the documentary Fallen Hero: The Tommy Prince Story on the History Channel.
Mackey felt the portrayal focused too much on how Prince was troubled with alcoholism in his later civilian life, and died in poverty in Winnipeg at age 62 in 1977.
"When it was over all I could remember standing out was Tommy Prince died on skid row," Mackey said. "I grew up when the vets came back from the war. I lived in a neighbourhood that was full of war-time houses and over half of the men who returned were alcoholics due to what they call today PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder)."
Mackey, who is Metis, was so angry he started raising funds to do something to honour Prince. "I thought I would do something for him, but I didn't know I'd still be doing it 16 years later," he said.