Former Air Force bomber celebrates 90th birthday

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Lyle Larson (right) in Edmonton at his birthday party

On Nov. 28, Lyle (Bud) Larson will turn 90 years old. The young man from the Prairies, who risked his life on over 52 bombing missions as a Lancaster pilot, beat the odds and returned home to Canada in 1945.

He is grateful to have made it through the war, but also celebrates the many life lessons and opportunities he was afforded by the experience. As he reaches this significant milestone, he can look back at a life well lived, and rich with experience.

After enlisting in 1941 and being selected to be a pilot, Larson trained in Canada at a variety of Air Force stations and then was stationed in England, where he learned to fly in British airspace.

In the fall of 1943, he was posted to the main Royal Air Force and his 52 missions with the Pathfinder Squadron over Europe began. The Pathfinders (an elite group) went ahead of the main bombing squadrons and marked the targets.

Larson was responsible for flying the aircraft and ensuring the safety of his six crew members. At 22 years old, his ability to handle that level of responsibility is a testament to his courage, intelligence and rapidly acquired maturity.

Larson was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for one particular mission. After being attacked by enemy fighters, where one engine was destroyed and his tail gunner was killed, he managed to evade being shot down and safely returned his crew and plane to England.

After the war, Larson returned to Canada, where he raised his family and contributed generously to a rich variety of community activities. Upon retirement, he moved to Creston to be near his younger daughter. He has enjoyed being an active member of the community and looks forward to many more years.

— Penny and Wilf Parsons,

Joan and Norm Fahselt,

Anne and Erling Larson