Award for Bravery at Westray
After five long days and nights, their efforts were in vain.
None of the trapped miners survived.
CEPU Local Union Officer
Wins Award for Bravery at Westray
The largest group in the history of the Honours System
to be awarded bravery decorations for a single incident.
by Cathy Hallessey
Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada
This item was found on the Internet, at
Bryne MacIntyre will never forget the events of May 9, 1992. The President of CEPU Local 823 and members of the Windsor Salt Mines Draeger Team from Pugwash, Nova Scotia, went underground without hesitation into the Westray Mine in an attempt to rescue 26 miners who were trapped beneath rubble following an explosion.
Sadly, after five long days and nights, their efforts were in vain. None of the trapped miners survived.
The heroic efforts of Brother MacIntyre and seven other men from the Canadian Salt Company have since been rewarded by Canada's Governor-General Ramon Hnatyshyn in an emotional ceremony that brought together many of the brave and the bereaved who share the tragic memories of the Westray Mine.
"All of them, without hesitation, entered the mine prepared to risk their lives for their fellow miners" said Hnatyshyn, in a church packed with miners, their families, and the families of the 26 dead.
"In a five-day ordeal, they performed incredible feats of strength and endurance in the face of perilous conditions", he added.
Each of the 177 men to receive medals were called to the front of the church one at a time. Some faces beamed with pride, others were close to tears. This honour makes them part of the largest group in the history of the Canadian Honours System, established in 1972, to be awarded bravery decorations for a single incident.
"I'll never forget it", said Bryne MacIntyre, in a moment of pride tinged with pain.
Draeger Team is the traditional term for miners who have been specially trained in mine rescue techniques. The phrase comes from the brand name of one of the original manufacturers of respiratory protection and gas detection equipment to receive widespread use in mines (and in industry).
Go To: Westray Scrapbook Fifty clippings about the Westray coal mine disaster
Go to: Main Westray Coal Mine Disaster page
Go to: Westray Public Inquiry online transcript of testimony
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