For David Denman, wading through the murky waters of a Nova Scotia pond and skimming the muddy depths for an explosive grenade is just another day at work.
But it’s the Canadian Forces leading seaman’s contribution to a Sept. 23, 2009, operation that won him a Medal of Bravery.
Denman is among 43 people ‘ but only four other Atlantic Canadians ‘ who are accepting bravery medals today at a ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa.
The 28-year-old had only been a diver certified in explosives for one year when he was asked to retrieve a vulnerable grenade from a pond in Stewiacke (a civilian had thrown a number of explosives into the water). In fact, it was his first dive of its kind.
“I was really excited,” said Denman, with a smile, sitting on a couch in the fleet diving unit lounge at CFB Shearwater on Wednesday.
Equipped with wet suits, air tanks and metal detectors, Denman and B.C.-based Lt. Andre Bard cautiously entered the 15-metre-by-15-metre pond that fall day. After about an hour of combing the swampy lagoon, Denman said he heard a “ping.”
“I scooped my hand (down) and, lucky enough, I had a grenade in … my hand,” said Denman, who grew up in Dartmouth. “It felt like a grenade, so I brought it to my face to check, because you couldn’t see a foot in front of you.”
The grenade was then detonated safely.
Denman said he is stunned and “incredibly honoured” to be receiving a medal for his work that day.
“I was just doing my job. It wasn’t really anything out of the ordinary for what I do … so I never thought anything more of it.”
But Petty Officer Second Class Rob Williams said Denman is being “modest.”
“It was a very dangerous job,” said Williams, Denman’s current supervisor. “There was a chance of it going off.”