Featured Squadron of the Month

232 Big Horn RCACS Squadron Crest

232 Big Horn Squadron

Squadron Name:  232 Big Horn Squadron
Chartered:  December 11th, 1942
Status:  Active
Community:  Oliver, BC

Squadron History

232 Big Horn RCACS - History - image 2

While retaining its number 232 since its inception in 1942, 232 Big Horn Squadron went through several name changes. Below is a chronological list of these changes:

232 Oliver/Testalinden/Osoyoos Squadron – 11/12/1942 – 27/02/1946
Oliver Squadron – 27/01/1946 – ??/??/1948
Squadron Disbanded – ??/??/1948 – 05/10/1949
Oliver Squadron – 05/10/1949 – 24/03/1958
South Okanagan Squadron – 24/03/1958 – 27/10/1987
Big Horn Squadron – 27/10/1987 – Present

The dates indicated are from the official records at the National Office of the Air Cadet League of Canada. These dates agree with the dates held by DND

ACLC and DND records show the original Charter for 232 OTS High School Squadron (Oliver/Testalinden/ Osoyoos) was issued on 11th of December, 1942 under the leadership of Mr. John Garfield (Gar) McKinley at the Southern Okanagan High School.

With the cessation of WW2 hostilities in 1945, many High School Squadrons in Canada were disbanded. It was felt then that they would no longer be needed for training future Air Force personnel. It is apparent that about 150 squadrons remained active during the period from late fall of 1945 until September 1946. No reliable information confirming the status of 232 OTO High School Squadron during this period has been confirmed.

On 27th of February, 1946 the Squadron’s name was officially changed to 232 Oliver Air Cadet Squadron.

In 1948 (Actual day and month to be determined) 232 Oliver Air Cadet Squadron was stood down (probably at the end of the Training Year).

On the 5th of October, 1949 the Squadron re-mustered again as 232 Oliver Squadron. The Squadron retained this name until March 24th, 1958 when the Squadron’s name was officially changed to 232 South Okanagan Air Cadet Squadron.

On the 27th of October, 1987 the Squadron’s name was officially changed to 232 Big Horn Squadron.

An interesting bit of historic information surfaced while researching these name changes for 232 Big Horn Squadron. The nickname “Rattler Squadron” appeared on several documents, specifically during the period when the squadron was officially recorded as 232 Oliver Air Cadet Squadron and 232 South Okanagan Air Cadet Squadron. While the exact origin of this nickname has not been confirmed, several explanations have been presented for this. One possible reason was that “Rattler” was shorter and easier to use than South Okanagan. Another suggested reason for calling it “Rattler” was the abundance of rattle snakes in the area. Yet another suggested reason was the similarity of the Squadron’s number 232 to the VFM 323 Death Rattlers Marine Fighter Attack Squadron of that era.

Historic records for the squadron show that for the 70th Anniversary of the squadron in 2012, Mr. Ron Worth, was invited to serve as the Reviewing officer for the Annual Ceremonial Review. In his speech Mr. Worth told the air cadets, that he still had very fond memories of the days when he joined 232 Oliver Air Cadet Squadron as it was called then. As a young teenager back in 1949, he attained the rank of Flight Sergeant and was the first Air Cadet from Oliver to receive his Private Pilot’s license through the Air Cadet program. He told them about his first summer camp as an air cadet, which was held in Gimli, Manitoba and the wonderful friendships he forged at that camp. He recalled doing his first solo flight on a glider and successfully landing the aircraft. He was quoted as saying to the cadets:

“I will never forget that great feeling of freedom … there are really no words to describe it. It was complete freedom.”

After acquiring his pilot’s license at the age of 16, he was able to take his girlfriend at the time on a ride. He still remembered the excitement of that day. Worth went on to say that he had no doubt that some of the friendships young boys and girls make as a result of joining air cadets will last a lifetime. He said that his life was directed by the time he served as an air cadet … it was an opportunity for him to follow his dreams and make some great friends along the way.

In its 81+ years of existence, the 232 Big Horn Squadron has had a remarkable relationship with the communities of Oliver, Osoyoos and the surrounding communities of the South Okanagan. A great deal of its success can be attributed to the financial support it receives from community groups like the Rotary Club of Oliver, The Kiwanis Club of Oliver and the Royal Canadian Legion Branches 172 of Osoyoos and 97 of Oliver along with the support it receives from the BC Gaming Commission through Community Gaming Grants to Non-Profit Societies.

232 Big Horn RCACS - History - image 3
232 Big Horn RCACS - History - image 4

For more information about 232 Big Horn Air Squadron of Oliver we invite you to follow the link: https://www.facebook.com/232RCACS/photos Here, you will be taken on a pictorial journey that gives you a very entertaining view and appreciation for the activities and the benefits that the Air Cadet program provides to the youth of the South Okanagan.

A special “Thank You” is extended to the BCPC Historian Mr. Mike Symons for providing us with the details needed to put this presentation together.

A partially completed copy of the historic tables of past Squadron administrators is available for review by request.

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