Stocky Edwards has slowed a bit in his later years but on the eve of turning 100 years old, he’s still as sharp as ever.
Born James Francis Edwards on June 5, 1921, he picked up the nickname “Stocky” during the war and is best-known as a decorated fighter pilot in World War II.
He flew a total of 373 combat missions and with 19 confirmed aerial victories, Edwards is Canada’s highest-scoring ace in the Western Desert Campaign.
Just as he was then, today Edwards is modest to the core and it takes some prodding to get him to talk about his success in the cockpit.
“I was just born that way,” he said outside his Comox home Friday. “All I wanted to do was go out and do a job for somebody.”
What he does like talking about are some of his favourite topics like hockey.
He grew up in Battleford, Saskatchewan where he played hockey and before joining the military he was even offered a chance to try out for the Chicago Black Hawks.
“Oh I love hockey, even today I could coach them,” quipped Edwards.
Fishing is another past-time that is easy for him to talk about.
“Well I didn’t really want to kill a fish but I just love to catch them,” he said.
Edwards has been a member of Ducks Unlimited Canada for decades and a current fundraising campaign in his name aims to raise $100,000 for work in BC.
“Well, they’re doing a wonderful job. They’re saving some of the things we’re losing and maybe we’re educating people too,” Edwards said.
“Stocky has been a great supporter of Ducks Unlimited Canada for quite a long time and it’s really wonderful that he’s put his name towards a program to raise money,” said Greg Sawchuck, Senior BC Director for Ducks Unlimited Canada.
Stocky Edwards received birthday wishes from 19 Comox.
“He’s just a wonderful person to be around and I think that is why he is so popular here, it’s not necessarily for his wartime record but he and his entire family are such wonderful people,” said Wing Commander Colonel Bryn Elliott.
“I just hope that I did it well because I always did the best that I could,” said Edwards.
Two CF-18 Hornets will conduct a flyby over Comox at 11 am on Saturday to honour Stocky Edward’s 100th birthday. A live stream of it can be found here.