War hero and resident advocate Alex Classen receives Lifetime Achievement Award

Forest Hill resident Alex Classen is pictured here receiving his Lifetime Achievement Award from administrator Susan Bell.

‘I can think of no one who is more deserving of this award,’ says LEC in nominating the Second World War veteran for the honour

Forest Hill resident Alex Classen served Canada in the Second World War and today serves as an advocate for his fellow residents at the Kanata, Ont. long-term care home by being active in its residents’ council. For his commitment to Canada and to his fellow residents, Alex was recently presented with the home’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

Alex has a colourful military background. He joined the Royal Canadian Air Force during the Second World War when he was only 19. He served on the Liberator, a B-24 bomber, and was stationed in India, as well as the Cocos Islands, where he and his crew flew missions over Burma (today called Myanmar) and Thailand for the allied forces, explains Forest Hill life enrichment co-ordinator (LEC) Craig Forrest, who nominated Alex for the award.

After VE Day (May 8, 1945), Alex helped air-drop medical supplies to POWs in Sumatra. Following the war, he returned to university where he met his wife, Melita. The couple raised two daughters and Alex now has four grandchildren.

Following university, Alex re-enlisted in the air force, working for more than 30 years as a telecommunications officer. He was posted in France to the NATO Allied Air Command communication centre for several years.

After returning to Ottawa, he enrolled at the University of Michigan, where he graduated with a degree in aeronautical and astronautical engineering.

Some of his duties while working in the air force included evaluating the effectiveness of air-defence radar stations; developing equipment for the detection of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons; and attending many meetings with NATO and NORAD councils.

At Forest Hill, Alex is active in the residents’ council, often advocating for his fellow residents, Craig says, adding Alex enjoys sharing his stories from the war with residents and staff members.

“Alex is very independent and is always happy to talk with fellow residents and staff about his interesting past,” Craig says.

“He always treats staff and fellow residents with dignity and respect. Alex has done so much for this nation and the western world in his lifetime and is a true hero. I can think of no one who is more deserving of this award.”

Lifetime Achievement Awards are presented to people living in OMNI Health Care long-term care homes who have demonstrated commitment to other residents, their home and country.

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