DND Fire Fighter and WW II RCAF Veteran John 'Jack' St. Thomas

August 4, 2008

Herbert Harry (Breck) Breckenridge Herbert Harry (Breck) Breckenridge 84, passed away peacefully on Tuesday July 22nd in Vernon BC. Born on July 21, 1924 in High River Alberta, to Charlotte Marion and Garret Alonson Breckenridge, Herb lived a full and varied life. He was the older brother to his sister Jeanine and a younger combatant for his brother Bob. Due to his father's penchance for moving around, the family lived in many parts of western Canada prior to settling on a ranch in 1935 outside of Lumby, in BC's northern Okanagan Valley. He often mentioned that his best childhood memories were on the Harris Creek Ranch. It was here that Breck spent his early teen years attending to school and perfecting his skills as a horseman and rancher. Like so many of his brethren he heeded the call to war and in 1943 he signed up to join the Canadian Forces to fight the Axis Powers. He immediately took a liking to the Air Force and requested to be air crew, however, by 1945 a wonky ear had grounded him. Rather than accept a medical discharge he persuaded his superiors to allow him to continue to serve in the RCAF as ground crew. His natural ability and love of teaching led him to become a rear gunner instructor in the British Commonwealth Air Training Program and he spent the remainder of the war primarily based in Mossbank Saskatchewan. When the war ended he decided to try civilian life so he was honourably discharged and he headed to Trail in the eastern Kootenay region of British Columbia. After short stints doing several different types of jobs he landed a position as a fireman at the local fire department. For the next four years he worked and prospered at the Tadinac Fire Department but he missed the military life and decided to re-enlist in 1950. For the next 18 years Breck enjoyed a second successful stint in the RCAF by parlaying his experience in fire fighting to become an instructor at the RCAF Fire Fighting School in Camp Borden Ontario. His career also took him to postings at bases in Goose Bay Labrador, Claresholm AB and Summerside PEI. In 1968 Sergeant Breckenridge was offered the opportunity to join the federal civil service and consequently he accepted a position with Transport Canada in Moncton NB. He bought a house in Riverview and moved his wife and four children to start afresh in the growing community. In 1982 he retired as the Regional Supervisor of Airport Emergency Services. Other than his work and family commitments Breck was active in a number of pursuits including serving as Club President of the Country Meadows Golf Club during a critical time in the club's development. During his retirement years he also was very active in the Laubach Literacy organization and personally tutored a vast number of students. He found that sharing his passion for reading with individuals who were experiencing it for the first time was one of the most rewarding experiences in his life. He could also often be found at the Riverview Arena assisting in his children's hockey dreams. Similar to his father he had an insatiable curiosity and appetite for travel and enjoyed several trips during his retirement to Europe, Africa and South America. In 1990 he returned to BC and his beloved Okanagan Valley, settling in Vernon only a short distance from the Harris Creek Ranch in which he spent several of his childhood years. He is survived by his wife Jennie, daughters Lea (Forbes), Lynda (Malcolm) and son Bill. He is also survived by his sister Jeanine (Summerland BC) grandchildren Becky (Fredericton), and Mike Forbes (Riverview) , Gina, Rachael, and Denis Malcolm (Mississauga) and Liam and Jack Breckenridge (Rothesay NB). He was pre-deceased by his first born son Robert in 1976. In keeping with Herb's wishes there will be a private family service. Memorials to Laubach Literacy NB or the charity of your choice would be appreciated.


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