Heroism honours

By Ashleigh Fielding | posted on March 28, 2019

SEVEN Great Southern residents have been awarded medallions in this year’s Australian Bravery Awards for their valiant efforts in life threatening situations across the region.

Matthew Corlett, Jason Fletcher, Peno Hau and Shaun McHenry were recognised for their courage during the October 2012 Black Cat Creek fire burnover event east of Albany that claimed the life of firefighter Wendy Bearfoot.

Mr Corlett, Mr Fletcher and Mr Hau will each receive a bravery medal as they went back into the bushfire to help others.

Mr McHenry will receive a star of courage for his similar efforts of putting himself in harm’s way to assist injured fire crew, some of whom were trapped in burning vehicles or who were without protection.

Chris Johns ESM, Jason Shepherd and Tim Wilkinson will receive a group bravery award for their efforts rescuing a woman who had jumped into the ocean near the Blowholes in October

The Albany Sea Rescue crew was deployed at around 8pm after police reported a missing person who was believed to have jumped into the water.

Mr Shepherd said conditions were difficult that night and required a full team effort to make the 32km trip as fast as possible.

“I was just about to sit down at home for tea when I got the call,” he said.

“It was a pitch black night, there was no moon and there was a strong easterly.

“It wasn’t a textbook case, so the challenge was to just get there on time.”

Mr Johns said he was incredibly proud of his team’s efforts and couldn’t speak highly enough of the police involved too.

“Shep is one of our best skippers,” he said.

“It was Tim’s first time out at night so he was very sea sick but he still helped.

“They were just outstanding, and that’s why I get so emotional talking about them – they are always so reliable.

“And the police, they were running around with their pocket torches and doing everything they could; they were outstanding.

“The cops don’t always get the thanks but they were just great.”

There are 101 Australians in total receiving honours at this year’s Australian Bravery Awards.