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Campaign launched to welcome family of fallen airman

They are coming from thousands of miles away to honour a Sarnia father and husband who died serving our country.
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David Salmons,19, and Sandy Martin, 18, on their wedding day in 1972 surrounded by family at Grace United Church in Sarnia. Submitted photo

They are coming from thousands of miles away to honour a Sarnia father and husband who died serving our country.

The late Captain David Salmons was killed when his plane crashed in 1980 during an Armed Forces search and rescue operation in northern Quebec.

Now, a campaign is underway to roll out the red carpet for his widow, son and daughter.

Sarnia native Salmons is the focus of a story written by Tom Slater and Tom St. Amand that will appear in this year’s Sarnia Remembers, The Journal’s annual Remembrance Week tribute in November.

But this story concerns the family he left behind.

Wife Sandy, son James, and daughter Ruth are travelling to Sarnia for a Remembrance Day event that will see Salmons’ name added to those already engraved on the Cenotaph in Veterans Park.

The Sarnia Historical Society is asking businesses and individuals to honour the supreme sacrifice he made by welcoming his family for the five-day visit to Sarnia.

Tourism Sarnia-Lambton has invited stakeholders to supply hotel accommodation, restaurant meals, car hire and gift cards for the family, which is coming Nov. 8 to 13. Sandy and daughter Ruth live on Vancouver Island, while son James is coming from Edmonton.

The Historical Society is collecting cash donations to help cover their airfare and other expenses. President Ron RealeSmith said the family was surprised to hear about the fundraising campaign, in addition to the honour being bestowed upon their husband and father.

Sandy Martin and David Salmons were married in Sarnia in 1972. James was born in 1978, and during Thanksgiving of 1980 Sandy told Dave she was pregnant. He died two days later in a Hercules Canadian Forces aircraft.

Daughter Ruth never knew her father.

The day her husband was killed, Sandy Salmons was shopping and hadn’t wanted to return to their married quarters residence at CFB Trenton. Something held her back, though, and even when their home came into view she hesitated, calling on a neighbour for coffee instead.

That’s where the senior officer and military chaplain found her, and delivered the grim news that would forever change the young family’s life.

Sandy took her family to western Canada and settled there, because that’s where her parents lived.

Captain David Salmons was a Sarnia hero. If you’d like to help smooth his family’s journey here with a contribution, contact Ron RealeSmith at 519-328-5009, or [email protected].

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