Local Heroes, Daring Rescue of the 709

1943 - USN submarine chaser SC 709 foundered off Louisbourg NS. Local fishermen effected a daring rescue under extremely adverse conditions. Stranded on a shoal & pounded by 12-foot seas, SC 709 quickly became weighed down by ice & began listing to starboard. Canadian naval authorities in Louisbourg judged it to be too risky to attempt a rescue. The sailors aboard SC 709 could be seen from the shore from time to time as they tried to move about on the wave-swept deck.
Mr. Yvon Chiasson, who was a crewman aboard a local fishing schooner, along with several local men, decided to try to reach them in two dories. These they had to drag across the shore ice until they reached open water. Then, they rowed into the teeth of the storm until they reached the wreck. The rescuers were able to remove eight of the sailors that were in the worst shape as the seas raged around them. Winds were blowing at 40 knots & the temperature had fallen to -20C. The American seamen were frostbitten & hypothermic by the time the rescuers reached them. "Those boys were in very poor condition, very poor indeed" Mr. Chiasson recalled. "The navy had no boat that could get close enough. When you're out there in the cold, with the water splashing all over & freezing on you, you're not going to last long." Fishing vessels, who followed Mr. Chiasson's route, saved the rest of the crew soon after. Mr. Chiasson's efforts were recognized in 2000 when he received the Silver Life-Saving Medal from the United States Navy at a ceremony held at Cleveland, Ohio. Rideau Hall has declined to honor Mr. Chiasson with the Canadian Life Saving Medal.Former Liberal cabinet minister Barney Danson, whose life is a mission dedicated to making Canada's legendary war history known to every single public school child, must be anguished. Our federal government is allowing our aging and diminishing war veterans to die off in ignonomy.
First we have federal officials refusing outright to consider an 81-year-old merchant mariner for a bravery medal. Canadian hero Yvon Chiasson, who is credited with rescuing eight American sailors off the coast of Cape Breton during the Second World War, was recognized by another country, the United States of America. The Canadian government refused on April 12, 2000 to consider the elderly Chiasson for a decoration after his son nominated him, and within just days of the United States Navy awarding him a Silver Lifesaving Medal.


George Converse said…
Gentlemen and ladies,
I am writing a history of Submarine chasers built in Elizabeth City, NC USA during WW II. SC-709was one of those vessels. I would like to use your account of the grounding as a source document and use the picture of her remains. Who do I need to contact to gain this permission? George Converse, 1431 Weeksville Road, Elizabeth City, NC 27909 USA (252) 330-2004, converse1@roadrunner.com

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