Anthony Reardon wasn’t old enough to join the army in 1939 but he never let that stop him. When he lied about his age and left to join the war, he’d hardly ever been outside of Goose Cove, a community of 200 on the Northern Peninsula where he grew up without running water.
Not long after he was steaming into the harbour of New York City as part of the Royal Navy getting ready head overseas to serve in the Second World War.
It’s because of his devotion to the military that the local Knights of Columbus gave Anthony an award Monday night at Tiffany Village where he lives. It’s a kind of military citation that knights have only given out three other times.
“It’s really sort of a certificate of appreciation or an award to express thanks for the person’s act of service in defence of the country. So it’s quite a prestigious award,” says Derm Whalen who is with the organization.
Anthony also served in the Pacific War. He’s 92 now and recently lost his hearing, but in his younger days his daughter, Anne Reardon, remembers him telling her and her siblings stories from his travels around the world during the war period.
“Nothing bad,” she says of the stories. “Sometimes we’d ask for the same story over and over again.”
They usually had to do with the people he met, she remembers.
“About how those people had lived and to make sure that we appreciated how we had grown up.”
Anne still has the passport of a young boy her father met when he was stationed in Hong Kong.
The young lad was an exceptional diver and would entertain the servicemen who watched him dive off a nearby wharf while they watched from their docked ship.
Eventually, Anthony would disappear down to his workshop with a pen and paper in hand. He taught carpentry after his war career, but besides his woodworking he also compiled a book down there for his children. It contained all the stories he told them when they were young about his time in the Royal Navy. In addition to that gem the family also now has the memory of their father receiving the Knights of Columbus award this week, as well.
“I think back to my dad when he enlisted at 18. He’d never seen a car in his life,” Anthony’s son, Gary Reardon, said Monday night as his father was given the award. “We’re all very fortunate to be here today. The outcome could have been a lot different.”
“I’m very proud of my dad,” he added.