June 18, 2012 By Carey Fredericks
June 18, 2012, Ottawa - Three Canadian Forces (CF) Search and Rescue (SAR) technicians from 424 Transport and Rescue Squadron will receive the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea, at a ceremony to be held in London, U.K., on November 26, 2012.
Sergeant Jannick Gilbert, Master Corporal Max Lahaye-Lemay, and Master Corporal Marco Journeyman will receive this prestigious honour for saving the lives of two Inuit hunters stranded in icy waters near Igloolik, Nunavut, on October 27,
2011. Tragically, Sergeant Jannick Gilbert perished during the rescue and will receive this award posthumously.
"The International Maritime Organization plays a vital role in promoting safety at sea and their recognition of Sergeant Jannick Gilbert, Master Corporal Max Lahaye-Lemay, and Master Corporal Marco Journeyman with this prestigious award is a testament to the bravery and sacrifice of these members in their service to our nation," said the Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence. "These brave men are truly deserving of this honour, and they embody the motto of all Search and Rescue Technicians…That others may live. Tragically, Canada lost a hero in this daring rescue, and Sergeant Gilbert will receive the award posthumously."
"Our dedicated Search and Rescue crews put their lives on the line everyday to come to the aid of people in distress, wherever and whenever they are needed across this vast country," said General Walter Natynczyk, Chief of the Defence Staff. "This award recognizes and honours the bravery of the three recipients and reminds us of the sacrifices made in order to protect the safety and security of Canadians in need."
This SAR mission was a collaborative effort that included SAR aircraft and crews from 17 Wing Winnipeg, 8 Wing Trenton, 9 Wing Gander, and 14 Wing Greenwood, and was coordinated by the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Trenton. Searchers located the two local hunters who were stranded in an open boat and dropped a radio to them. The condition of one hunter was deteriorating and when communications were lost, the three SAR Techs from 8 Wing conducted a parachute insertion into the high seas and strong winds from a CC-130 Hercules to render assistance. A CH-149 Cormorant helicopter from 103 Squadron, 9 Wing Gander, arrived on scene, airlifted the two local citizens and the three SAR Techs from the area, and transported them to the medical centre in Igloolik. The mission itself resulted in the rescue of the two local citizens with only minor injuries.
The IMO is the United Nations agency with responsibility for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of maritime pollution by ships. The Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea is the highest honour awarded by the IMO.
The CF members will receive this award jointly with Mr. Cesar Flores Flores, a rescue swimmer of the aerial detachment from Puerto Montt, Fifth Naval Zone, Chilean Navy.