Distinguished war veteran Alfred Ames was awarded the prestigious MSM (Meritorious Service Medal) by the Royal Canadian Legion at a veteran’s lunch hosted by Branch 71 president Ken Carlow and members on Monday, June 16. Ames, a former mayor of Salmon Arm, is a long-standing member of Salmon Arm’s Royal Canadian Legion Branch 62. He now resides in Invermere.
The award is considered to be one of the highest honours that can be granted a member and is officially approved by the Dominion Ritual and Awards Committee.
“He has been my mentor and my friend for over a decade, and it’s fair to say that Branch 62 would not have survived without the service and dedication of fellow comrade and legionnaire Alf Ames,” commented Salmon Arm Branch 62 president, Henry Butters, in a statement.
Ames was formally acknowledged by peers and supporters for a lifetime of outstanding devotion to his community and for “going above and beyond the call of duty” to the legion he so proudly served and continues to serve.
Ames’ distinguished career has taken place over a period spanning 76 years.
Born in Birmingham, England, on July 14, 1924, the widower of Olga Ames, his marriage partner of 65 years, and father of Howard Ames and Shelley Hopkins, fought bravely in the Second World War. Ames was one of the 24,000 British, U.S., and Canadian Allied soldiers who landed on the coast of Normandy on D-Day.
“My father was committed to our family and set aside time from his work and community service for us. He had clear views of right and wrong, and always emphasized doing the right thing. He often said that you have no right to complain about something if you are not willing to change it,” said his daughter, Shelley Hopkins.
Ames served as a military driver for the colonel finance officer in Germany for a period of two years after being wounded during the conflict in Falaise Gap, one of two injuries he sustained while on duty in France.
“He encouraged taking a stand for your beliefs — he showed his beliefs through his actions. He was a steady, quiet, kind and very giving man,” said Hopkins of her father.
Awarded the Overlord Medal by the French government for his heroic efforts in what is commonly known as “Operation Overlord,” the Queen’s Medal, and the Dutch Medal for his efforts in the liberation of Holland, the proud and devoted lifetime legion member was humble and gracious as he accepted his award.
Ames’ notable accomplishments after the Second World War include an induction into the presidency of the Pincher Creek legion branch, where he served on the executive for over 10 years.
Transferring his membership to Salmon Arm Branch 62 in 1964, Ames continued to serve in an executive position, which eventually earned him the Life Membership award in 2003, and the 70 years of continued service to the legion award in 2012.
“His legion service is wide and varied,” said Butters of the war hero.
Smiling in front of the crowd, the seasoned patriarch patiently allowed photographs to be taken as he stood proudly with medal in hand.
The newly honoured Ames was showered with applause, accolades, and a dignified flag tribute from the Legion’s Colour Party as he took a moment to enjoy the recognition of a lifetime dedicated to the service of others.
“It is impossible to see Salmon Arm and not see the impact of his contributions. His is a lasting legacy, a reminder of what commitment to community can accomplish,” said Hopkins.