Thursday, 19 March 2009

Star of Courage for rescue of NWT Polar Bear Hunter

Star of Courage

Sergeant David John Cooper, S.C., C.D., Winnipeg, Manitoba
Sergeant Dwayne B. Guay, S.C., C.D., Comox, British Columbia
Star of Courage

On February 16, 2007, Sergeant David Cooper and Sergeant Dwayne Guay, then master corporal, parachuted in extreme weather conditions to rescue a man who was stranded on an ice flow, in the Arctic Ocean, in the Northwest Territories. After a difficult landing due to the strong winds, the two search and rescue technicians made their way to the victim, provided first aid, and set up shelter until help arrived, some
11 hours later.

Star of Courage


Comox-based search and rescue technician receiving bravery award for daring Arctic rescue


A Comox search-and-rescue technician will be awarded the Star of Courage, one of the country's highest honours for bravery, for his part in the 2007 rescue of a polar-bear hunter who was stranded on an ice floe in the Northwest Territories.

Gov.-Gen. Michaëlle Jean will give the award to Sgt. Dwayne Guay, now of 442 Squadron at CFB Comox, said press release issued by Jean's office yesterday.

The award is given to those who display "conspicuous courage in circumstances of great peril."

On Feb. 16, 2007, Guay and Sgt. David Cooper were both stationed at 17 Wing in Winnipeg when they were called to help a hunter who became stranded on a floe while attempting to retrieve a dead seal used to attract polar bears.

The hunter's boat broke free, leaving him alone on the floe with the dead seal and no rifle.

The SAR techs parachuted in dark, icy conditions to rescue the hunter. Strong winds made for a difficult landing and the two rescuers made their way to the victim, provided first aid and helped set up a shelter until the three could be extracted 11 hours later, by a Cormorant helicopter based at CFB Comox.

The chopper had been in the area, flying to Whitehorse to participate in an air show, and was diverted to pick up Guay and Cooper.

Guay could not be reached for comment yesterday but in media reports after the rescue, he said: "If there was even the smallest malfunction or problem, we'd be in big trouble. It would have made us casualties for sure."

Three other men will receive the star of courage while 36 Canadians will receive medals of bravery, which recognize acts of bravery in hazardous circumstances.

The date for the ceremony has not yet been set.

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