Two Greater Victoria residents are among the first in Canada to receive a medal honouring Queen Elizabeth II’s accession to the throne 60 years ago.
Colwood resident Master Seaman Christopher Switzer was flown to Monday’s ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa from Panama City, just after his ship, HMCS Vancouver, passed through the Panama Canal on its way home to CFB Esquimalt from the Mediterranean Sea.
Switzer was one of 60 Canadians, including four Canadian Forces personnel, who were presented with the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal by Gov. Gen. David Johnston.
Victoria resident Maureen Shaw also received the commendation in recognition for her leadership in occupational health and safety, corporate social responsibility and education for manufacturing workers.
Switzer was able to reconnect with his wife Jennifer and his Ontario-based parents and in-laws at the ceremony ahead of his warship’s return to CFB Esquimalt later this month. The crew has been away since last July.
“That was the key benefit right there, when they flew me out to see my wife after so long,” he said via telephone from Ontario. He is scheduled to return to his ship in San Diego, Calif. this weekend.
Switzer was nominated to receive the medal by his superiors in recognition for his contributions to the Royal Canadian Navy and several local charities. Switzer is a hull technician who is in charge of the ship’s junior ranks mess. He organizes social events and charity efforts for 160 non-commissioned sailors.
“It’s my job to make sure everybody’s happy, and keep the welfare up,” said Switzer, who also trains sailors in emergency preparedness, such as fighting ship fires.
The medal is an honour he won’t soon forget.
“It was really nice to be flown out,” Switzer said. “That really meant a lot, to be taken away from a deployment and to come do this and be sent back to the deployment.”
The Diamond Jubilee Medal will be given to 60,000 Canadians this year.
“The recipients who are honoured by this medal have made Canada better,” Johnston said in a statement. “Individually, they have improved the well-being of many in our communities, and together, they have helped to create a smarter, more caring nation.”