Navy helicopter crew to be awarded Group Bravery Citation for flood rescue

Published on LEUT Sarah West (author), POIS Damian Pawlenko (photographer), ABIS Sarah Williams (photographer)

Topic(s): Honours, Awards and Trophies

With a Black Hawk helicopter landing in the background local residents board a Sea King helicopter at the Laidley sports ground for transfer to Laidley hospital to escape rising flood waters. (photo: Petty Officer Damian Pawlenko)
With a Black Hawk helicopter landing in the background local residents board a Sea King helicopter at the Laidley sports ground for transfer to Laidley hospital to escape rising flood waters.

Four Royal Australian Navy members involved in the winch rescue of a man from floodwaters at Laidley Creek during the Queensland Floods in 2011 have been approved for the award of a Group Bravery Citation. 

The Royal Australian Navy wishes to congratulate Petty Officer Nicholas Anderson, Chief Petty Officer Kerwyn Ballico, Lieutenant Simon Driessen and Commander Scott Palmer for their efforts on 11 January 2011, which Her Excellency the Honourable Quentin Bryce AC CVO, Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia has deemed worthy of the Group Bravery Citation.

Their Citation reads:

On the evening of 11 January 2011, the crew of a Navy Sea King Helicopter were conducting evacuation operations in response to the flash flooding at Laidley when they spotted a man being swept along Laidley Creek. The crew elected to attempt a winch rescue as the man continued to be swept along the swollen creek.  One of the crew members was lowered down to a point approximately 3 feet above the stranded man however, was unable to grab hold of him. As the man in the water was swept towards a tree, the pilot of the helicopter manoeuvred the craft away, moving the crew man on the rope out of its path. The stricken man then managed to grab hold of the tree and pull himself out of the water into the tree canopy. This allowed the crew man on the rope to be lowered into the tree and, after calming the man, connect a harness to him. The two men were then winched up into the helicopter to safety. For their actions, the recipients are recognised by the award of the Group Bravery Citation.

(L-R) Chief Petty Officer Aircrewman Kerwyn Ballico and Petty Officer Aircrewman Nick Anderson, recipients of a Group Bravery Citation, in front of a Sea King helicopter at the Fleet Air Arm Museum, Nowra.

(L-R) Chief Petty Officer Aircrewman Kerwyn Ballico and Petty Officer Aircrewman Nick Anderson, recipients of a Group Bravery Citation, in front of a Sea King helicopter at the Fleet Air Arm Museum, Nowra.

Local residents board a Sea King helicopter at the Laidley sports ground for transfer to Laidley hospital to escape rising flood waters.

Local residents board a Sea King helicopter at the Laidley sports ground for transfer to Laidley hospital to escape rising flood waters.