Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut February 19, 2014 - 2:47 pm

Aircraft commander honoured for 2011 Foxe Basin rescue mission

Capt. Aaron Noble led crew on 2,000 kilometre, 18-hour mission

NUNATSIAQ NEWS
Capt. Aaron Noble, left, shakes hands with Governor General David Johnston at Rideau Hall in Ottawa Feb. 18, shortly after Noble was awarded the Meritorious Service Cross. (PHOTO BY SGT. RONALD DUCHESNE, RIDEAU HALL)
Capt. Aaron Noble, left, shakes hands with Governor General David Johnston at Rideau Hall in Ottawa Feb. 18, shortly after Noble was awarded the Meritorious Service Cross. (PHOTO BY SGT. RONALD DUCHESNE, RIDEAU HALL)

The aircraft commander who in 2011 led a mission to rescue two stranded walrus hunters near Igloolik has been honoured with Canada’s prestigious Meritorious Service Cross.

Capt. Aaron Noble, of Burnaby, B. C., was awarded the cross Feb. 18 at Rideau Hall in Ottawa.

On October 21, 2011, Noble led a rescue team on a 2,000-kilometre mission to rescue stranded boaters in Foxe Basin, near Igloolik.

The mission to recover the hunters, David Aqqiaruq and his 17-year-old son Lester, took place at night, in poor weather.

When they learned that the condition of the two hunters was worsening, three search and rescue technicians parachuted from their Cormorant helicopter into the icy waters below.

One of those technicians, Sgt. Janick Gilbert, died during the rescue attempt.

In what turned into a harrowing, 18 hours, Noble’s crew recovered Gilbert’s body, the technicians and hunters and returned to Igloolik.

In a citation from Governor General David Johnston, Noble “expertly planned and executed his mission, saving the lives of the two hunters and recovering the three search and rescue technicians who had parachuted in to assist them.”

This wasn’t Noble’s first honour for his role in the Nunavut rescue mission; the entire crew received the 2012 Cormorant helicopter rescue trophy for their efforts.

At the Feb. 18 ceremony, Noble also received the Meritorious Service Cross for rescuing a sailor from a fishing boat.

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