The Reporter is publishing short profiles of Cloverdale veterans in our upcoming Remembrance Day edition.
We’ve put a call out to local veterans and their families for profile submissions in hopes of sharing them with readers on Nov. 6.
One recent sunny afternoon, a woman named Virgina Olafsen came into our office, accompanied by one of her sons. She dropped off a letter and a couple of photographs. It turned out she’s 93 and served on Vancouver Island during the Second World War, on a top secret mission. Looking back, she thinks she was selected to the post because she didn’t drink or smoke, making her less likely to spill the beans while off duty.
Virginia (Everett) Olafsen
Date of birth: Sept. 29, 1921.
I grew up in Ontario and I joined the RCAF W. D. in October 1942. They told me I was perfect for special work, because I didn’t drink or smoke.
After my month’s basic training in Ottawa, I was posted to Patricia Bay Airport on Vancouver Island.
I was placed in a dormitory with other girls assigned to the same work. We must never tell others where we worked or what we did.
We worked at a building off in the woods where no one would see it.
It was called “Sector” and we were taken there on the back of a truck.
the gist of the program was protecting the coast. The planes were used for dawn and dusk patrol. The pilot had to “pipe in” – sing or talk so the direction finding stations (D.F.) could get a fix on them.
There were three direction finding stations, two on the island and one on the mainland. They would pass the information to a D.F. station at Sector and it was passed to us so we could track the plane on the big board – a map of Canada’s west coast.
We all enjoyed our work. I guess it sort of made us special!
I met my husband John Olafsen when we were both serving in the air force at Pat Bay.
We met on March 30, 1943 and married June 8, 1943. My dad’s message: “Wait six months.” But we didn’t. He was a good husband and father.
We adopted a three-month-old girl in 1946 and a nine-month-old boy in 1947. I was so anxious for a family.
In 1951, ’53, ’55, and ’57 we had four boys born to us and in 1959 a daughter. A wonderful family.
When we moved from Richmond to Cloverdale in 1988 we were moving to the country!
My brothers Jack, Bob and Graham also served in the air force. Jack and Bob went overseas.
Bob, Ernie and Gordon Olafson served in the air force. Gordon was shot down in the plane and was a prisoner of war. He is buried in Belgium.
Note: Virginia’s husband John passed away on May 4, 2001.
*If you’d like to send in a profile, just visit this link to print out our submission form. Or just email photos and a short biography (name, date and place of birth, years of service, posting, and any additional comments or information) to firstname.lastname@example.org. Items run space permitting.