‘Never told my family’: Veteran revisits secret Cold War surveillance building near B.C. airport – BC

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There’s an old abandoned building in the back corner of the Boundary Bay Airport.

It was there that, during the height of the Cold War, the Canadian military was intercepting signals from the Soviet Union.

Bill Rogers worked there, and more than 60 years later, he got his first look at the building’s blueprints.

“This is where we had records,” Rogers says, pointing the rolled-out sheets.

For 14 years, he was posted at the Vancouver wireless station acquiring highly classified information. It was so secretive, he couldn’t even tell his wife and kids what he did for work.

“Nope, never told my family. They had no idea what we did,” the 91-year-old says. “They thought we had a radar station.”

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Says his son, Frank: “At some point, I became aware that he had something to do with keeping the rest of the world safe during the Cold War.”

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Rogers was intercepting Morse code signals from Soviet ships, icebreakers and commercial vessels during some historic times.

He was there when British spy Kim Philby defected to Moscow. He was on watch during the Cuban Missile Crisis. And he was monitoring after the Soviets launched satellites into orbit.

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“Every 90 minutes, (the satellite) went over and we copied (the signals). That was the only time we could copy (them), for a few minutes.”

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After being posted to Germany in 1968, Rogers eventually moved back to Ladner, now living near the “north 40” — the Vancouver wireless station he called home for many years.

“We had some great parties in the mess hall,” he says. “They were so good, the (commissioned officer) of the camp would come to our parties.”

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There was a coworker reunion in front of the old airport building several years ago, and all the memories come flooding back.

Just like they did as he was looking over the blueprints, retracing his steps in those top-secret rooms.

“This was bank for different antennas,” he says, going over another page of blueprints. “I can remember sitting there, trying to stay awake on midnight shift.”




© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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