THEN AND NOW: A career spent flying around the world

Bob Kangiesser, then and now.
Bob Kanngiesser received wings as a Radio Officer in October 1960. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)Bob Kanngiesser received wings as a Radio Officer in October 1960. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
A photo of Bob Kanngiesser in 2020. (SONJA DRINKWATER / Special to the News)A photo of Bob Kanngiesser in 2020. (SONJA DRINKWATER / Special to the News)

The number of Port Alberni’s veterans of the First and Second World Wars, and campaigns such as the Korean or Vietnam wars, are dwindling. When we see these veterans in uniform, be they members who saw battle, supported their brethren or entered areas of conflict on peacekeeping missions, we see the way they are today: navy blue blazers, chests full of medals, faces lined with character.

Last year, freelance writer and photographer Sonja Drinkwater approached eight veterans of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 293 and asked them to share a photo from when they served with their respective military branch, as well as a description of their role. She then took a photograph of the veterans as they are now.

The project was so popular that she has approached six more veterans this year. They are all active members of the Legion. If you know of a Port Alberni veteran who deserves to be featured, reach out to us at


Following High School in Lacombe Alberta, Bob Kanngiesser joined the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) in September 1958 at Royal Roads Military College in Victoria.

Nine months later, Kanngiesser transferred to the regular force and trained at Centralia On.t and Winnipeg Man., receiving wings as a Radio Officer in October 1960.

In June 1961, Kanngiesser was transferred to the now closed base in Rivers, Man., which was the Army Airborne training centre. There, he flew the Fairchild C-119 Flying Boxcar military transport aircraft. In May 1964, Bob was transferred to 437 Squadron in Trenton, flying in the CC-106 Yukon long range cargo and transport aircraft to bases in Europe, Cyprus and other airports throughout the world. There are 4192 flying hours in his aviation logbook.

In 1965 Morse code was in regular use but Kanngiesser correctly concluded there would soon be no need for radio officers, so he left the Air Force and entered the University of Alberta, receiving a Bachelor of Commerce degree in 1969.

Kanngiesser retired as Secretary-Treasurer of School District 70 (Alberni) in 2003. Married to Jean for more than 50 years, they have two children and five grandchildren.

Kanngiesser now spends his time volunteering or sitting on community boards such as the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District regional airport advisory committee.

Remembrance Day