A Hay River resident has been recognized once again for his bravery in rescuing a truck driver from a flaming wreck on an Alberta highway in 2009.
Mike Sharpe was presented with the Governor General’s Medal of Bravery on Oct. 21 in Ottawa.
“It was quite exciting,” said Sharpe of the medal presentation at Rideau Hall. “There was a lot of ceremony to it.”
Plus, Oct. 21 was a special day for him to receive a medal.
“I got it on my birthday, too,” said the 41-year-old. “That was a bonus.”
In all, Governor General David Johnston presented Medals of Bravery to 45 people from across the country.
In September of 2009, Sharpe rescued a man from a burning fuel truck, which had overturned on Alberta’s Highway 63, about 200 km south of Fort McMurray.
Sharpe rushed through smoke and flames, and managed to pull the driver to safety just moments before the truck was completely engulfed.
At the time, he and a co-worker were heading south to Edmonton from Fort McMurray when a car passed them and forced a tractor-trailer off the road. It overturned and began to burn, but the cab was not on fire.
However, the driver didn’t emerge from the vehicle.
“I’d given him four or five seconds and like, ‘Man, you’re not out of the truck yet. What’s going on? I should see you scrambling,'” Sharpe recalled thinking. “So I thought, ‘If there is going to be a time to do anything, it’s going to be right now.'”
So he acted and struggled to open the door, which had been damaged in the accident, and eventually managed to get it open.
Except for a scrape on his head, the driver was uninjured.
At that time, Sharpe was working with Syncrude in Fort McMurray. Now, he co-owns a business called Cash and Carry, a mobile food and dry goods operation in Hay River.
Sharpe has previously received three other medals for his actions – a silver medal for bravery from the Royal Canadian Humane Society, the Stanhope Medal and the Carnegie Medal.
Asked if he feels like a hero, Sharpe said yes and no.
“I did something really brave and I’m really glad that buddy made it through alright and he could go home to his wife and kids,” he said. “That for me is more than enough to know that. That was all I really needed from day one.”
However, he noted that receiving honours for his actions is great.
“I’m proud to accept them and I’m glad and honoured, in a way, to receive them, but it wouldn’t matter if I received one or any. It’s just I was glad to be there to help when I could,” he said.
Sharpe noted that his father, Vince Sharpe of Inuvik, has also won a Medal of Bravery.
The elder Sharpe received the medal in 2011 for his actions in late 2007 when he pulled two people from a burning trailer in Inuvik.
Mike Sharpe believes it can’t happen very often that a father and son would win the same medal for difference incidents.
“I think it’s a nice legacy for the family to have two winners like that,” he said.
In his remarks at the Oct. 21 ceremony, Johnston said he never fails to be moved by the courage that people often show in extreme situations.
“Those of you being recognized today have likewise shown extraordinary courage when called upon by circumstance to act,” he said. “I am truly humbled by your stories of selflessness and bravery.”
The Governor General said the medal recipients have breathed life into the words bravery, courage and valour.
“Your actions have inspired us all,” said Johnston.
Others at the Rideau Hall ceremony were honoured with Medals of Bravery for the vital role they played in evacuating several passengers from a float plane that crashed in Yellowknife on Sept. 22, 2011. They are Kent David Bissell, Roderick Brown, Matthew Grogono, Mike Murphy, Sergio Rodriguez Sanchez, Allan Shortt, David Swisher and Greg Van Langenhove.