Cpl. Robert John Hunka will participate in a ceremony in Quebec City on Oct. 5, where the Medal of Bravery will be bestowed.
“I was shocked,” said Hunka, about receiving a letter back in March about the commendation.
“I still don’t think about it as being anything other than part of our job.”
He’s talking about an assistance to the general public call received on Jan. 16, 2014. Two calls were made to 911 of reports of yelling and screaming coming from a building on Lyman Street, as well as smoke coming from the apartment.
Hunka responded, attending the rear apartment for a woman in distress.
"Once on scene, I was met by a resident who stated that an elderly female was in the rear apartment calling for help," Hunka wrote, in his general report after the incident. "I could hear the female yelling 'help' and coughing faintly. I announced 'Truro Police' and knocked on the door, however no further response was heard.
"I could smell what appeared to be smoke coming from under the door and the doorknob appeared to be warm."
Hunka wrote that he forcibly entered the locked apartment by kicking the door, "due to the threat of grievous bodily harm or death."
The thick black smoke, said Hunka, "immediately took my breath away" and made his eyes burn. He could hear the woman coughing.
"I stepped outside and took a deep breath and proceeded within the apartment," he wrote.
"The smoke was so thick I had to continue to hold my breath and use the wall for guidance."
Hunka found the woman at the back of the apartment, curled up on the floor.
"I then proceeded to lift the female as she could not stand and put her on my shoulders."
Using the wall again for guidance, Hunka made his way outside the building with the woman.
Chief David MacNeil said Hunka’s actions that night were “an act of bravery, over and above the norm,” and the service wanted him to be recognized.
“We are quite happy the nomination was accepted,” said the chief, who hopes to attend the ceremony with the corporal.
“It’s important as the chief to recognize when our officers go above the call of duty.”
As for Hunka, he said recognition doesn’t come very often, and it’s nice when it does.
“I’m happy and humbled to be receiving it. It’s also been nice to have the strong support from our local police officers in the community,” he said.
ABOUT THE MEDAL OF BRAVERY (M.B.)
- The Medal recognizes acts of bravery in hazardous circumstances.
- It is a circular silver medal: on the obverse of which is a maple leaf surrounded by a wreath of laurel, and on the reverse of which the Royal Cypher and the inscription BRAVERY / BRAVOURE appear.