Gerry Vowles (left), Michael Cook, and Dave Sinclair were awarded “Dominion Command Presidential Citations” June 17 in Cloverdale. The rare awards were given out for “exemplary service to the Legion.” (Photo: Malin Jordan)

Gerry Vowles (left), Michael Cook, and Dave Sinclair were awarded “Dominion Command Presidential Citations” June 17 in Cloverdale. The rare awards were given out for “exemplary service to the Legion.” (Photo: Malin Jordan)

Three B.C. legionnaires awarded ‘Presidential Citations’

Ceremony took place in Cloverdale June 17

Three legionnaires were awarded a “Presidential Citation” June 17.

Michael Cook, Dave Sinclair, and Gerry Vowles received “Dominion Command Presidential Citations” from Val MacGregor, President, B.C./Yukon Command, at the Royal Canadian Legion’s head office in Cloverdale.

The new citation, just created last year, is awarded to “individuals who give such exemplary service to the Legion that existing awards are insufficient to recognize the achievement,” said MacGregor.

“These three dedicated B.C./Yukon Command past presidents stepped up during an incredibly challenging period,” she said. “As it turned out, the challenges were much greater than what had been anticipated and what started as a short-term commitment lasted two years.”

MacGregor handed out the hardware on behalf of the Dominion Command president Thomas Irvine (head of the Canadian Legion). Irvine couldn’t travel because of COVID restrictions.

“They did some extraordinary work for us here for a couple of years,” said MacGregor. “It was the Dominion president’s wish to thank them all formally with these citations.”

Cook said he was thankful for the recognition the award brings, not only for his work helping to get B.C./Yukon Command moving in the right direction again, but also for the work he’s done with veterans and the legion as a whole.

“We were very fortunate to be able to retain some good staff,” Cook said of his time helping while the B.C./Yukon Command was in trusteeship. “We had to get things going in the right order, get back into doing things so the Command felt part of all of Canada, instead of being on its own.”

That trusteeship lasted from 2017 until September, 2019, when Irvine officially declared its end at the legion’s convention in Penticton.

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Cook, a 49-year member of the Cloverdale Branch #6, is past president of B.C./Yukon Command. Cook was also Dominion Command Treasurer, and chairman of the board for the Legion Foundation: BC/Yukon Command.

According to a Bryan Lutz, communications coordinator for the Legion, “Cook has kept very busy over the years with such organizations as the Cloverdale Board of Trade, Surrey Minor Football, Cloverdale Rodeo, South Surrey Seniors Housing Society and Surrey Parks and Recreation Commission.”

Sinclair said he was overwhelmed by the recognition.

“It means everything to me,” said Sinclair, who resides in Victoria. “We worked very hard for two years to bring this Command back to the place it should be.”

Sinclair said they had tremendous obstacles to overcome, but through hard work and the dedication of those involved, he’s happy to say, “mission accomplished.”

Sinclair joined the Royal Canadian Navy in 1953 for Korea and served 25 years until he retired in 1977. Sinclair served on different ships, mostly in the Pacific.

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“He also served on the Australian aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne and was loaned to the USN and served in Pearl Harbour at a naval communication facility,” reads a bio submitted by the Legion.

Sinclair is current president of Victoria’s Legion Manor and is past president of the BC Senior Living Association

Vowles said the award means the world to him. He said he was glad he could work for Dominion Command and is thankful he could contribute.

“It really means an awful lot to me and I’m very, very proud,” he said. “I’m an old Navy chief and now an old president of B.C./Yukon, just wonderful people to work with.”

North Vancouver’s Vowles, a life member of Branch #179 on Commercial Drive, spent 28 years serving in the Royal Canadian Navy from 1954-1980. He served mostly as a PT instructor, “including five years at the Naval School of Physical Education and five years at the Army School of PT.

“Gerald finished his military career as the 1st Air Command Physical Education and Recreation Warrant Officer. He was posted coast to coast, from Cornwallis to Naden, and many bases in between,” reads a bio provided by the Legion.

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