Richards gifted military insignia


Mike Watkins presented Banff-Airdrie MP Blake Richards with his late father’s framed rank insignia July 21.

Watkins’ father H.C. “Shorty” Watkins rose to the ranks of a Chief Warrant Officer in the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals, serving in the Canadian military for the majority of his life.

“Blake was always straight forward with him, and my father thought the world of him,” Watkins said. “Even the one time my dad wasn’t even Blake’s constituent, Blake took time to talk to him. I just wanted to give Blake something to remember him by.”

Shorty retired after more than 40 years of service, but Mike said his father never stopped honouring his country through treating his fellow community members with respect and kindness. He passed away in 2009.

“My dad always extended charity and kindness to everybody,” Watkins said. “Even out of the military, he worked downtown Calgary for a while. He would pay for street people’s coffee in the winter time or put (out) big jugs of water for people in the summer time.”

Because of Shorty’s respect for Richards’ personality and political work, Mike decided to pass along his father’s framed rank insignia.

“It’s a great honour,” Richards said. “I just have the greatest respect for those who served for our country – something that Mike’s dad did. I know the freedoms that allow me to be a representative of the people are because of those who serve in our military and sacrifice every day for this country.”

With a space already dedicated to the rich military history of his own family, Richards said he plans to display the insignia in his office.

“I have my great grandfather’s medals from (the First World War) and my grandfather’s from (the Second World War),” he said. “I want to add (Shorty’s insignia) to this wall as a tribute to Mike’s dad and to all of those who serve our country in uniform.”


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