December 10, 2013 Sections
Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
When Doug Brown stared down opposing linebackers as the starting quarterback of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in 1945, he hardly flinched.
Even though he was wearing a fraction of the padding players of today wear, what's a couple of Eskimos or Roughriders when he had been face-to-face with the Nazis just a year earlier?
As a member of the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion, he parachuted into France on D-Day on June 6, 1944. He was captured by a German patrol unit several days later and taken prisoner. After a couple of escape attempts, he walked out a free man in May 1945 as the Allies moved in on the camp.
Brown's multiple careers -- he was an RCMP officer before he joined the Armed Forces and an entrepreneur after he came home from the war -- will be celebrated this afternoon at the Deer Lodge Centre on Portage Avenue as nearly 100 family and friends gather in honour of his 90th birthday.
In addition to letters of congratulation from the Queen, the prime minister and a host of other dignitaries, perhaps the most fitting moment of the festivities will come when he's given a CFL football, autographed by his namesake, the all-star Bomber defensive lineman who retired after the 2011 season.
During an interview at Deer Lodge on Friday, the elder Brown looked distinguished with nine war medals adorning his blazer.
As he stood at the plane's jump door nearly 70 years ago, Brown said he never considered that he was participating in what would ultimately become one of the most crucial war efforts in Canada's history. He wasn't afraid, either.
"I just thought it was the thing to do. There was no fiddly-diddly about it, you either did it or you didn't," he said.
Brown's CFL career was cut short by a shoulder injury. In later years, he served as aide-de-camp to Manitoba's lieutenant-governor from 1960 to 1976.
Among the crowd at today's festivities will be Brown's wife, Kathleen, and his four children, Fred, Morry, Gail and Sandra.
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 12, 2013 A13