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Article Date01-09-2009
Record TYPENews
Article TitleWWII pilot gets pension after 40-year battle
Article ContentWWII pilot gets pension after 40-year battle

Last Updated Tue, 08 Nov 2005 18:12:06 EST

CBC News

Clifton Wenzel flew almost 50 combat missions during the Second World War and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Force Cross. But, in spite of his record, he was told when he left the service he didn't qualify for a pension.

Now, after more than 40 years, a Canadian pilot has won a major victory in his struggle for a pension.

Wenzel flew bombers and coastal patrol craft for the Royal Canadian Air Force. After the war he flew with the Royal Air Force and completed nearly 400 sorties during the Berlin airlift. He retired in 1961 after 20 years of service.

But when he applied for a pension, the Air Force told him he needed 25 years' service and turned him down.

""I love the service. You get in the armed forces and you feel like family. And then when they turn their back on you and just say whatever you did was of no consequence, it hurts very much,"" said Wenzel.

The former pilot has been fighting for his pension ever since. Now he has finally received some satisfaction.

After reviewing the case Canadian Forces ombudsman Yves Cote said the system failed Wenzel and that he should get his money and an apology, and that the legal bills he racked up pursuing his case should be paid by the government.

""I recommend that the damages he suffered be repaired with dignity and honour, that the injustice be acknowledged and that appropriate compensation be paid to Mr. Wenzel,"" said Cote.

Defence Minister Bill Graham asked the ombudsman to look at Wenzel's case. On Tuesday, a spokesperson for Graham said it's regrettable the system failed Wenzel and that the minister would go to Treasury Board to look for ways to address the ombudsman's report.

It means Wenzel will receive financial compensation, but it's not clear how much or when it will come.

For now, Wenzel's lawyer says he's still waiting for official word from the government.
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