Willett, Dallas

Dallas Willett was born August 3, 1930 in Rouge Hill, Ontario.  Third child in a family of 12, he grew up there against the backdrop of the Great Depression, working the family farm and delivering newspapers when he wasn’t at school or playing soccer or hockey.  They would also go into the nearby town of Whitby, to bowl or maybe catch a movie.  Dallas also grew up during the war; three uncles were in the service, but as Dallas was too young, he served in other ways, picking milkweed or finding scrap metal.  Dallas chose to enter the military in his own right in 1948, just as the Cold War was starting to heat up.  That year there were major floods in British Columbia, and he was one of the soldiers assigned to relief duty, arriving in B.C. in the nose of a Lancaster.  Not long after he opted for more specialized duties including parachute training, and he was assigned to the Airborne Battery of the Mobile Strike Force in 1950, just as the Korean War broke out.  They were tasked with the duty of defending Canada in the event of a Soviet strike, and Dallas did a good deal of training in Alaska with the Americans.  During this time – and later – Dallas completed 100+ jumps, earning the nickname “Red Light” because of an early departure from the aircraft on one occasion.  Dallas had two overseas deployments to Germany as well, training with NATO forces, and in Canada he was deployed to Montreal during the 1970 FLQ Crisis.  Having made the military a career Dallas continued his service into the early 1980s, taking on a variety of roles, including in Canada’s newly founded Airborne Regiment.  In retirement Dallas has maintained his connection to the military, and he is a powerful advocate for remembrance.  Dallas Willett was interviewed by Scott Masters at his home in Fenwick, Ontario in August 2022.