A hero World War II pilot, a police officer who ran off with a bomb to keep others safe, and a climber who saved three others on Mount Everest have been honoured for their courage.
More than 60 everyday Australians who’ve committed extraordinary acts of valour have been recognised in the latest Australian Bravery Awards announced on Wednesday.
Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove said many Australians owed their lives to those on the list, and some of the recipients had paid the ultimate price for going to the aid of others.
One such hero is World War II pilot James Wallace Hocking, who stayed at the controls of a stricken bomber to make sure it didn’t make a direct hit on a town in the English countryside.
More than 70 years after his death, the Queenslander has been awarded the second highest honour, the Star of Courage, for guiding the bomber into a field on the outskirts of March, near Cambridge, having ordered his crew to bail out when his plane caught fire during a night-time training run.
Sir Peter says the remarkable story and other more modern tales of valour included in the latest list give Australia role models, whose actions speak of a courageous, selfless and caring nation.
“There are those whose brave acts mean they are no longer with us,” he said on Wednesday, in announcing 55 individual and group bravery awards.
“Today, to their families, I express the nation’s sadness at your loss but pride in your loved one’s actions.”
Among the more jaw-dropping acts on the list is that of police officer Michael Pearson, who did the most extraordinary thing when a highly agitated man burst into the Logan police station, south of Brisbane, in November 1998.
The man pulled a home-made explosive device from his briefcase and said he planned to “take out” as many people as he could.
Officers lunged at the man, and then Senior Sergeant Pearson managed to grab the device, and run with it to nearby park, ensuring his colleagues were safe.
There he patiently waited for the bomb squad to arrive, and for them to kit him out with protective body armour while they rendered the device safe.
The officer is among six presented with a Group Bravery Citation for the way they handled the drama without the loss of life.
Another notable recipient is Canberra man Andrew Lock, who put himself at risk of altitude sickness after coming across three stricken climbers while descending Mount Everest in May 2004.
Mr Lock found a Briton, a Canadian and a Mexican in a semi-comatose state, and gave two of the men his own oxygen bottles.
He arranged for a Sherpa to take the Canadian down the mountain while he descended with the Mexican climber.
Despite starting to feel the effects of hypoxia himself, he then went back up the mountain to deliver oxygen to the Briton before also helping him down.
Mr Lock is among those to receive a Commendation for Brave Conduct.