When Second World War veteran Henry Golis learned his name would grace a street sign in his old east Winnipeg neighbourhood, he had one but thought: "I feel honoured. Very much so."
"My house was there and all my children were born on that street," the 93-year-old lifelong Transcona resident said Thursday of the section of Regent Avenue West between Winona and Madeline streets now bearing the honorary title of Henry Golis Way.
Born and raised in Transcona, Golis joined the Royal Canadian Air Force when he was 17, serving as a flight sergeant and wireless operator/air gunner. On Feb. 12, 1945, his crew's Canso bomber crashed into Saanich Inlet on route to landing in Patricia Bay, B.C.
"I had this accident when I was 19, I was the youngest one in the crew," Golis said, referring to himself as the "youngster."
There were eight men on board the plane; he was one of four survivors.
Golis recalled the survivors fought through high fires to get to open water before being saved. He spent five or six months in the hospital due to burns and injuries.
He returned home to Transcona after Japan surrendered in August 1945, and restarted his life. In 1950, he married his wife, Elsie, and together they had two girls and three boys.
"I'm one of the surviving members of the Second World War legion here in Transcona. There's not too many of us left," he said. "It's going to be 94 years here in two weeks."
In November 2019, Transcona Coun. Shawn Nason made the push (with Golis' blessing) to rename the section of Regent Avenue West to recognize his contributions.
"It's an opportunity to honour their service," said Nason, the veterans and military liaison for the City of Winnipeg.
"It gives me a great deal of pride to acknowledge these people who served us and grew up in this community."
The honorary street name will remain for five years, in accordance with city bylaws.