Passed away peacefully on November 6th in the Royal Jubilee Hospital in Victoria after a relatively short illness.
Born in Zakopane, Poland on February 5th 1932, he arrived in Canada in 1940 together with his mother and 3 of the 5 sons of General Kazimierz and Jadwiga Sosnkowki.
After attending various schools in Montreal, in 1949 he enrolled in Royal Roads Military College before going to sea, participating in the “Around South America” goodwill cruise of HMCS Ontario and the “Royal Cruise” for the then Princess Elizabeth & Prince Philip.
In 1955 he took flying training with the United States Navy, followed with 2 years (1956-1958) as squadron pilot with VF871 flying F2H-3 Banshees from HMCS Shearwater (land base) and HMCS Bonaventure (carrier) and another two years with Experimental Squadron 10 (VX10) based at HMCS Shearwater as a project pilot. Various projects included chief acceptance pilot for the CS2F-2 Tracker program.
In 1960 Joe was posted to the United States Navy Test Pilots School in Patuxent River Md. where he was selected as the “Outstanding Student” for Class 28. Staying in Patuxent River as a Project Pilot at the “Flight Test Division, he participated in a variety of projects including “Bureau of Inspection and Ships” trials on various new procurement aircraft and helicopters.
Promoted to Lieutenant Commander, Joe returned to VX10 HMCS Shearwater in 1963 as Project Pilot, primarily on the “Destroyer Helicopter Hauldown and Landing System”
With the disbandment of the Fleet Arm, he became a member of the Canadian Air Operations group so that he could continue flying. In 1971 he came to CFB Comox as the Operations Officer and second in command of 409 All Weather Fighter Squadron (AWF) followed by peace keeping duties with the “International Commission for Control and Supervision” in Saigon and Pleiku, South Vietnam. He was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel.
In 1976 he was posted to CFB Bagotville 410 OTU for refresher training on the CF-101 Voodoo and in command of 425 AWF Squadron “Alouettes” which time was highlighted by the Presentation of Her Majesty’s Colours to the Squadron by the Lieutenant Governor, The Honourable Jean Pierre Cote, c.p. of the province of Quebec.
Later assignments included time in Cranwell, U.K; Ramstein, West Germany and with NORAD as Assistant Deputy Chief for Operations and Commanding Officer Canadian Contingent in Rome, NY, USA.
After retirement he returned to his beloved west coast, settling in Courtenay in 1992 where he continued to enjoy fine dining, golf, skiing and fishing with many friends both inside and outside the military circles.
Predeceased by 2 brothers John (Elaine) and Tony (Margaret), he is sadly missed by Alexander (Anne) of Fullerton, California and Peter (Anne Marie) in Deauville, France.
His five nephews and nieces – Michael (Joanna) of Virginia; Andrew (Rebecca) Burlington, ON; Louisa (London, England); Alexandra (Pete) Hood River, Oregon and Vincent (Stephenie) Tahoe City, CA together with five great nephews and nieces have lost a great mentor but have a remarkable role model against which to measure their own successes in life.
A Memorial Service will take place at 12 noon on Tuesday, November 27th beneath Hawk One & the gate Guardian @19 Wing Comox. The Museum has kindly offered the use of its facilities immediately before and after the Service to be followed by a wake at 888Wing, Air Force Association, @ 1248 Military Rowe, Comox, to which all are welcome.
Donations to the charity of your choice or The Royal Canadian Sea Cadet Education Foundation (www.canadianseacadetscholarships.ca) would be appreciated.