Don Pennell was born October 16, 1937 in Grimsby, Ontario. He grew up there and in Oakville, first against the backdrop of the Second World War, and the “Fabulous 50s”. Don was young during the war, but he recalls an uncle who served, and he remembers the rationing from the time. His father became a mechanic and did war work at the Goodyear Plant in New Toronto, and so the family moved to the outskirts of Oakville, where Don grew up on a small farm, enjoying the countryside – and the new invention of television. Don chose to leave school after Grade 12, and after time doing door-to-door sales he opted for a military career. He chose the navy and went into basic training a few weeks later, alternating between Canada’s east and west coasts. As he wore thick glasses Don was selected as a medical assistant, and he did specialized training out in Nanaimo. On the east coast he served in Halifax and Sydney before being drafted to the HMCS Bonaventure, one of Canada’s aircraft carriers. On the Bonny he twice sailed for the Mediterranean, including a voyage to deliver supplies to Canadian peacekeepers on Cyprus. Don chose to reenlist for a second term, extending his service to 8 years; in that second stint he studied to specialize in EENT diagnoses. By this time Paul Hellyer’s decision to integrate the Canadian Forces had been passed, a policy that did not sit well with Don. He elected to leave the navy and to enter the civilian world, where he was able to find work with an optical company, not to mention raise his family. Don was interviewed by Scott Masters at his home in Fenwick, Ontario in August 2022.
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