Still Grieving the Painful Reality
Stouffville resident’s brother was one of Canada’s top two fighter pilots
Picture 1: Captain Hollis Tucker was 33 when the CF18 he was piloting disappeared into the ocean off the coast of Vancouver. Picture 2: Captain Tucker with his sister Susan. Picture 3: The large poppy that Susan made out of plywood to honour her brother is placed on her front lawn from Nov 1 to 11 each year.
Photos Courtesy Susan Tucker
By Kinjal Dagli-Shah, Stouffville Free Press
Captain Hollis Tucker, a member of the Royal Canadian Air Force, was eight days away from his 33rd birthday when his airplane inexplicably crashed into the ocean in 1990. He would have been 60 years old this year.
His younger sister, Susan Tucker, has been a Stouffville resident for 26 years and honours Captain Hollis’ memory every year on Remembrance Day. “I go to the annual service at the
Stouffville Legion, I made a large poppy out of plywood that I place on my front lawn from Nov 1 to 11. I am also currently working on a quilting project to make a wall hanging with the words Lest We Forget,” said Susan. “Remembrance Day is special to me because of my brother and the many others who were killed in wartime and peacetime.”
The tragedy struck on an April day when Captain Hollis Tucker was doing a routine training mission off the coast of Vancouver with another CF18. The mission had little risk. But when communication was lost with Captain Tucker, the second jet came around to look for him but found an oil slick in the ocean, which is thought to be the result of the crash. “My parents were out west at the time visiting Hollis and got the news when military representatives showed up at their hotel to let them know he was missing. No cause was ever determined for the accident. Hollis was a very family-oriented man, the second of four children, and was very close to all of us,” recalled Susan.
The family was naturally devastated, and as Susan said, the reality is still very painful. “The crash was reported on national news for about two weeks after the accident as there had been a couple of other CF18 accidents not too long before Hollis’, so we kept hearing it on TV and it was extra painful,” said Susan, who feels proud of all that her brother stood for. “Hollis loved his job, had a passion for flying and was extremely happy in what he was doing. He was selected to go to what is commonly referred to as the Top Gun school in the US, and was rated as one of the top two fighter pilots in Canada.”
Over the years, Captain Tucker’s family have kept his memory alive in many ways. “We have done several things in his memory, from commissioning paintings to donating funds to various organizations in his name, and sharing memorabilia with family and friends.”
Heartbreaking as it is, Susan understands the realities of a career in the armed forces. “As long as there is a need in the world for peace keepers, militaries, police forces etc, there will sadly be lives lost. The people who chose those fields fully understand what they sign up for and know fully well that they may lose their life performing their job. It doesn’t make it any easier when something happens, but we know that they were doing a job that they loved.”
Write to Kinjal at firstname.lastname@example.org