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  • Craig Baird

When Paratroopers Attacked Vermilion

The area of Vermilion has not been known as a location where there has been much military conflict. During the 1885 North West Resistance, there may have been some worries over conflict, but nothing happened.

In fact, there has never been an invading force coming into Vermilion in most of its history until one October day when paratroopers suddenly appeared in the sky ready to attack the industry potential of Vermilion.

This wasn’t during the Second World War though, but two decades later in 1964.

On Oct. 19, 1964, paratroopers suddenly appeared in the sky over Vermilion and began to descend onto the community. The assault was made by 100 members of Edmonton’s A Company, Second Battalion of the legendary Princess Patricia’s Light Infantry.

The only thing standing in the way of these paratroopers and their goal to capture the powerplant, a small dam and the municipal airport were 35 members of A Company from the Loyal Edmonton Regiment, who formed up the defensive around the airport.

The paratroopers were commanded by Major C.E. Goodman, and the paratroopers were dropped from a C-119 aircraft from the RCAF Station Namao.

In the battle, there were no casualties and no one was injured because, obviously, they were using blank ammunition.

This was all a training drill regarding the capturing of a Canadian town that had a strong industrial sector and was close to a major city. The goal was to paralyze that industrial potential for the community, thereby hurting the rest of the province in the process.

As for who won the battle, according to Major Goodman, it was a successful invasion of the paratroopers who overwhelmed the defenders based on the simple fact they outnumbered them almost three-to-one.

For the people in Vermilion on that day, it must have been quite the sight to see people descending from the sky, ready to attack the airport, for the purposes of training troops.

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