Department of National Defence



Department of National Defence

November 26, 2012 13:00 ET

Canadian Forces Members Receive International Award for Bravery

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Nov. 26, 2012) - Three Canadian Forces Search and Rescue Technicians from 424 Transport and Rescue Squadron, 8 Wing Trenton, received the International Maritime Organization Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea, at a ceremony held today in London, United Kingdom.

Sergeant Janick Gilbert, Master Corporal Max Lahaye-Lemay, and Master Corporal Marco Journeyman received this prestigious honour for saving the lives of two Inuit hunters stranded in icy waters near Igloolik, Nunavut, on October 27, 2011. Tragically, Sergeant Janick Gilbert perished during the rescue.

"All Canadians can be truly proud of these selfless and courageous men, and can feel confident that the best Search and Rescue professionals in the world are always on duty to help Canadians in distress, around the clock from coast to coast to coast," said the Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence. "Sergeant Janick Gilbert, Master Corporal Max Lahaye-Lemay, and Master Corporal Marco Journeyman clearly embody the Search and Rescue Technicians' motto…That others may live, and tragically Sergeant Gilbert gave his life in upholding this ideal."

"This was an extremely demanding mission due to the remote location and harsh weather conditions," said General Tom Lawson, Chief of the Defence Staff. "It is entirely appropriate that the International Maritime Organization saw fit to recognize the bravery and professionalism of these Search and Rescue Technicians under some of the most extreme conditions imaginable."

The ceremony was attended by Sergent Gilbert's widow, Melisa Lesquir, who accepted the award on his behalf, and his mother, Diane Gilbert; Master Corporal Lahaye-Lemay and Miss Christine Baldwin; and Master Corporal Journeyman and his wife, Anne. The ceremony was also attended by His Excellency Gordon Campbell, Canadian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom and Rear-Admiral Dave Gardam (Commander Halifax Search and Rescue Region.

This Search and Rescue mission was a collaborative effort that included Search and Rescue 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 Search and Rescue Technicians from 8 Wing parachuted from their CC-130 Hercules into the high seas and strong winds to render assistance. A CH-149 Cormorant helicopter from 103 Squadron, 9 Wing Gander, arrived on scene, airlifted the two victims along with the three Search and Rescue Technicians 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 International Maritime Organization 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 International Maritime Organization.

The Canadian Forces members received this award jointly with Mr. Cesar Flores Flores, a rescue swimmer of the aerial detachment from Puerto Montt, Fifth Naval Zone, Chilean Navy.

During his career, Sgt Janick Gilbert also received the Guild of Pilots and Air Navigators Award of Gallantry, the Sacrifice Medal (awarded posthumously), the Canadian Peacekeeping Service Medal, the NATO Medal for Former Yugoslavia and the Canadian Forces' Decoration.

Notes to editor / news director:

For more information on the International Maritime Organization and the Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea, visit: http://www.imo.org/MediaCentre/PressBriefings/Pages/21-council-bravery.aspx

For imagery of the Canadian Forces members who received this award, visit: http://www.rcaf-arc.forces.gc.ca/v2/index-eng.asp

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