Manitoba Historical Society
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Memorable Manitobans: Charles Roy Slemon (1904-1992)

Military officer.

Born at Winnipeg on 7 November 1904, son of Samuel Slemon (1864-1936) and Mary Bonser (1874-1938), he was known as Roy for most of his life. He attended Luxton School and, in 1923, enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force, becoming the first Canadian pilot to earn his wings during peacetime. He attended the University of Manitoba and graduated in 1927 with a degree in civil engineering. During the Second World War, he went overseas and assisted in the formation of the No. 6 RCAF Bomber Group in the Royal Air Force, holding the positions of senior staff officer and second-in-command. By the end of the war, he was Deputy Air-Officer Commanding-in-Chief. In January 1953, he was appointed Chief of Air Staff of the RCAF and, a few months later, was given an honorary degree by the University of Manitoba. From 1957 to 1964, he was second-in-command of the North American defense network NORAD. On 5 October 1960, a radar signal indicated that a missile attack from the USSR was in progress. He did not order a retaliatory strike and the signal was later found to be erroneous. He retired to Colorado Springs, Colorado in 1964 and died there on 12 February 1992. He was survived by a wife and three children.


Birth registration, Manitoba Vital Statistics.

“New air chief,” Winnipeg Free Press, 31 January 1953, page 1.

“4 honorary degrees today,” The Manitoban, 20 May 1953, page 3.

“Airman averted missile launch,” Winnipeg Free Press, 15 February 1992, page 21.

Obituaries and burial transcriptions, Manitoba Genealogical Society.

This page was prepared by James Arnett and Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 21 March 2020

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

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