RCAF members presented with Medal of Bravery

News Article / November 24, 2017

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Rideau Hall

Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of Canada Julie Payette presented two Stars of Courage and 39 Medals of Bravery at a ceremony at Rideau Hall on Thursday, November 23, 2017. Among them were two members of the Royal Canadian Air Force: Sergeant Stephen Bates and Master Corporal Shawn Thorn. Their citations read:  

Sergeant Stephen Claude Joseph Bates, M.B., C.D., Gander, Newfoundland and Labrador

On October 2, 2014, search and rescue technician Sergeant Stephen Bates risked his life while evacuating an ailing man from a fishing vessel, in severe weather conditions off the coast of Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. Sergeant Bates was preparing to extract the man by helicopter when the hoist cable became tangled in the boat’s hydraulics. Struggling against strong winds, he succeeded in freeing the cord. Sergeant Bates and his team were then able to remove the man from the ship and transport him to shore.

Warrant Officer John Dunbar, M.B., C.D., Halifax, Nova Scotia
Corporal Alexander Keightley, M.B., Petawawa, Ontario
Master Corporal Dale M. Kurdziel, M.B., Lancaster Park, Alberta 
Master Corporal Shawn Thorn, M.B., Lancaster Park, Alberta

On July 20, 2015, Warrant Officer John Dunbar, Corporal Alexander Keightley, Master Corporal Dale Kurdziel and Master Corporal Shawn Thorn rescued a family from their burning home in Lancaster Park, Alberta. While Warrant Officer Dunbar used a ladder to retrieve one of the children from the roof, Master Corporal Kurdziel rushed into the smoke-filled residence to locate a second child. Accompanied by Corporal Keightley and Master Corporal Thorn, he entered the house again to locate the mother and moved her to safety.

The citations reflect the ranks of the individuals at the time of their nominations. For a complete list of all recipients and their citations, please visit the Governor General’s website.

Decorations for Bravery


The Decorations for Bravery were created in 1972. They recognize people who risk their lives and choose to defy their own instinct of survival to try to save a loved one or a perfect stranger whose life is in immediate danger.

The three levels of the Decorations for Bravery reflect the degree to which the recipients put themselves at risk:

The Cross of Valour (C.V.) recognizes acts of the most conspicuous courage in circumstances of extreme peril.

The Star of Courage (S.C.) recognizes acts of conspicuous courage in circumstances of great peril.

The Medal of Bravery (M.B.) recognizes acts of bravery in hazardous circumstances.

Eligibility and nomination

Anyone is free to propose the name of a person who has risked injury or death in an attempt to rescue another person. The incident need not have taken place in Canada, and the rescuer need not be Canadian, but Canadians or Canadian interests must be involved. The decorations may be awarded posthumously.

Nominations must be made within two years of the incident, or within two years after a public entity, including a court, a quasi-judicial tribunal or a coroner, has concluded its review of the circumstances surrounding the incident or act of bravery.

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