A graduate of the University of Saskatchewan, McEwen joined the Canadian Army in 1916. In April 1917 he was seconded to the Royal Flying Corps. A founding member of 28 Squadron, he served in Italy as a Sopwith Camel pilot, scoring 27 victories. For his wartime service, McEwen was awarded the Military Cross, the Distinguished Flying Cross with Bar, and the Italian Bronze Medal for Valour.
During World War II, he commanded two bomber group bases, assuming command of 6 Bomber Group in England in 1944. He attained the rank of Air Vice-Marshal and retired in 1946 but continued working as a consultant to various aircraft manufacturers. He was 69 when he died.
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