Members of Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) 424 Transport and Rescue Squadron participated in a memorial group jump in Trenton in honour of Sergeant (Sgt) Janick Gilbert on Oct. 27, 2023.
A team of 15 search-and-rescue (SAR) technicians parachuted into the drop zone at 8 Wing/Canadian Forces Base Trenton to commemorate the 12th anniversary of Sgt Gilbert’s passing.
On Oct. 27, 2011, Sgt Gilbert, a SAR technician, was tasked for a rescue near Igloolik Bay (Hall Bay), Northwest Territories. During the rescue mission, a team of three SAR technicians, including Sgt Gilbert, parachuted into the Arctic Ocean where they were separated from each other due to the severe weather conditions.
Five hours later, a second team of two SAR technicians was lowered from a helicopter and successfully located all parties, including the two hunters. Sadly, Sgt Gilbert did not survive.
The five SAR technicians that responded to the call were all awarded the Star of Courage on Oct. 30, 2013, including Sgt Gilbert posthumously.
“I would like to commend Warrant Officer Guay for organizing this event. Remembering our fallen is so important and it is something we sometimes struggle to make time for given our operational tempo. I am unspeakably proud of the members of 424 Squadron for facing the challenges of the job on a daily basis and continuing to do what they do. Canadians depend on us to be prepared and ready to assist, and we proudly do so, but the inherent risks cannot be underestimated. On the anniversary of Sgt Gilbert’s death, I would like to pass along my thoughts and prayers to his family and friends and hope they take some comfort in this memorial,” said LCol Neil Prescott, commanding officer, 424 Transport and Rescue Squadron.
“It’s an honour to coordinate and participate in a commemoration like this. We remember Sergeant Gilbert and all of those who participated in the mission that day. So many of us are keenly aware of the risks but we choose to continue in this line of work because it is so important. I love what I do but it doesn’t come without a cost and it’s important that we acknowledge and remember that,” said WO Dwayne Guay, deputy SAR technician team lead.
- 424 Transport and Rescue Squadron flies approximately 200 rescue missions per year. When not tasked on rescue missions, the squadron works to maintain skills through training events. These flights and scenarios are realistic and ensure that proficiencies are maintained so they are able to execute these manoeuvres in potentially life-threatening situations.
- The Trenton Search-and-Rescue Region (SRR) is an area of more than 10 million square kilometres, the bulk of Canada’s land mass. The Trenton SRR also includes:
- Hudson’s Bay
- James Bay
- The Canadian portions of the Great Lakes and the Arctic Ocean
- The Trenton SRR is shared between 424 Squadron and 435 Squadron in Winnipeg and extends from Québec City to the Alberta–British Columbia border. From south to north, it extends from the Canada–United States border to the North Pole.
- The RCAF is primarily responsible for the aeronautical component of the search-and-rescue (SAR) mandate in Canada. SAR incidents under the federal SAR mandate are defined as all incidents involving an aircraft and all marine incidents on any federal waterway. All other SAR cases are classified as humanitarian and are provincial/territorial responsibilities.
- 424 Transport and Rescue Squadron operates the CH-146 Griffon helicopter and the CC-130J Hercules aircraft. The crews are launched in the event of air and maritime SAR distresses and also in support of humanitarian cases.