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Fortune coast guard employee modest about award for rescuing colleague

The Navy League of Canada recognized Ray Cuza of Fortune (second from right) and two other Canadian Coast Guard employees as exceptional sailors during a ceremony in Ottawa last month. Also honoured were Nicholas Frith (second from left) and Isabelle St-Denis (centre). On the far left is CCG deputy commissioner Mario Pelletier. CCG commissioner Jody Thomas is on the far right.
The Navy League of Canada recognized Ray Cuza of Fortune (second from right) and two other Canadian Coast Guard employees as exceptional sailors during a ceremony in Ottawa last month. Also honoured were Nicholas Frith (second from left) and Isabelle St-Denis (centre). On the far left is CCG deputy commissioner Mario Pelletier. CCG commissioner Jody Thomas is on the far right.

Fortune, NL - You won’t catch Ray Cuza bragging about his recent recognition from the Navy League of Canada.

“To me, it’s all part of my job,” he said Wednesday.

The Fortune resident was one of three Canadian Coast Guard employees named as exceptional sailors during a ceremony in Ottawa on Oct. 25.

He is the first recipient of the award from the coast guard’s Atlantic region.

Cuza, a deckhand on the CCGS Leonard J. Cowley, recounted the event from this past summer that lead the honour.

The Cowley had been tasked to respond to an overturned sailboat with five people aboard in the Atlantic Ocean this past July, he said.

By the time they arrived, however, a tanker had already picked up the sailors.

The skipper of the overturned boat had suspected neck and back injuries and needed to be medevac, but foggy weather was hampering the transport, so two rescue specialists from the Cowley had been sent board the tanker.

The rescue specialists were being changed out for two others some time later when the incident occurred.

The first man made it up the 30-foot pilot ladder on the side of the tanker without issue, Cuza said.

“The second fellow got on the ladder and seemed to have a bit of a struggle. He got one foot on the ladder, but he couldn’t get the other one on,” he said.

After hanging on for as long as he could, he slipped off the ladder and fell into the sea.

Cuza and the Cowley’s chief mate went to their colleague’s aid in a fast rescue craft.

They pulled him a safe distance from the tanker, with Cuza keeping the rescue specialist’s head out of the water, until it was safe to haul him into their boat.

Then they got him aboard the Cowley and put him in the ship’s sickbay.

“I went and got a cup of tea for him – after he was straightened away – to warm him up,” Cuza said.

The rescued man was quartermaster on the Cowley and was scheduled for the night watch. Cuza had worked all day, but took the shift.

“I was proud to be acknowledged for the award, but anybody in the same position would have done the same thing,” Cuza said.

“I don’t consider myself a hero or anything like that, you know.”

pherridge@southerngazette.ca

“To me, it’s all part of my job,” he said Wednesday.

The Fortune resident was one of three Canadian Coast Guard employees named as exceptional sailors during a ceremony in Ottawa on Oct. 25.

He is the first recipient of the award from the coast guard’s Atlantic region.

Cuza, a deckhand on the CCGS Leonard J. Cowley, recounted the event from this past summer that lead the honour.

The Cowley had been tasked to respond to an overturned sailboat with five people aboard in the Atlantic Ocean this past July, he said.

By the time they arrived, however, a tanker had already picked up the sailors.

The skipper of the overturned boat had suspected neck and back injuries and needed to be medevac, but foggy weather was hampering the transport, so two rescue specialists from the Cowley had been sent board the tanker.

The rescue specialists were being changed out for two others some time later when the incident occurred.

The first man made it up the 30-foot pilot ladder on the side of the tanker without issue, Cuza said.

“The second fellow got on the ladder and seemed to have a bit of a struggle. He got one foot on the ladder, but he couldn’t get the other one on,” he said.

After hanging on for as long as he could, he slipped off the ladder and fell into the sea.

Cuza and the Cowley’s chief mate went to their colleague’s aid in a fast rescue craft.

They pulled him a safe distance from the tanker, with Cuza keeping the rescue specialist’s head out of the water, until it was safe to haul him into their boat.

Then they got him aboard the Cowley and put him in the ship’s sickbay.

“I went and got a cup of tea for him – after he was straightened away – to warm him up,” Cuza said.

The rescued man was quartermaster on the Cowley and was scheduled for the night watch. Cuza had worked all day, but took the shift.

“I was proud to be acknowledged for the award, but anybody in the same position would have done the same thing,” Cuza said.

“I don’t consider myself a hero or anything like that, you know.”

pherridge@southerngazette.ca

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