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5 Jul 2010
John Couch Bursary Awards Ceremony 2010
JOHN COUCH BURSARY AWARD
|Recipients: Jeffrey Dinsmore, Emily Boyko, Wesley Palmer, Sarah Marion |
Hell Frozen Over…Fighting murderous cold, a Heroic Pilot keeps alive the victims of an Arctic Plane Crash…
It is with pride and thankfulness, we remember Captain John Couch,
a Bluevale Collegiate Graduate.
Captain Couch, a father of two young girls;
was a 32 year old veteran of the Gulf War and was the pilot
of a Canadian Forces C-130 Hercules aircraft that was
carrying 4 crew members and 13 passengers (three of whom were women)
that crashed near Alert, Nunavut on October 30, 1991 while preparing to land on Ellesmere Island.
[Alert, Nunavut was the world’s northernmost land-based outpost,
with winds that at times plunged temperatures to -76 degree F]
Guiding the plane’s descent into an eerie arctic darkness,
the radar station was visible from about 35 miles away.
Captain Couch decided to land the transport visually, abandoning an instrument-directed approach.
Minutes later, the aircraft dropped in a massive explosion of wind and heat;
jagged rock burst through the belly of the four-engine, turboprop transport.
The aircraft had slammed down and skidded on a sloping, snow-covered plain,
the impact severing the tail section and cockpit from the fuselage, strewing mangled debris over a mile-long path. Moments later the cockpit exploded into flame.
Whatever caused the plane to drop so suddenly may never be known.
By evening, three men and one woman were counted dead
(one died on impact, and three perished within an hour)
leaving the 14 survivors of which four could walk, eight that were badly hurt,
and two could not be moved for fear they had spinal injuries
to endure the harsh exposure to the Arctic weather.
In the days following,
Captain Couch worked endlessly to help the survivors of the crash.
Endangering himself, he distributed the few available items of warm clothing to others.
Tragically, Captain Couch, died of exposure just hours before rescuers arrived.
In total four men and one woman had died, but 13 had survived because of the efforts of John Couch.
This award honours those students who exhibit
the same qualities of kindness and self-sacrifice as Captain Couch.
The staff at Bluevale Collegiate chooses the recipients each year.
They look for students who wouldn’t “toot their own horn”
but are genuine, respected, kind individuals who may otherwise go unrecognized.
Bluevale Collegiate appreciates the support each year from the Poppy Fund.
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