Capt. Aaron Noble of Burnaby, B.C. was the aircraft commander of a rescue flight tasked with finding two hunters stranded in a boat in Foxe Basin.
The harrowing rescue took place among three-metre swells in the dark.
In the end, David Aqqiaruq and his son, who had gone out walrus hunting, were brought home safely.
Sgt. Janick Gilbert, a search and rescue technician who parachuted in to help them, died in the icy water.
Noble is credited with planning and executing the mission, which would require over 2,000 kilometres of travel, far exceeding the maximum air crew day, according to the citation from Gov. Gen. David Johnston.
It was deemed the most demanding helicopter rescue of the year, and earned the entire rescue team a 2012 Cormorant Trophy.
Noble will also receive a second a Meritorious Service Medal at today’s ceremony for his role in the 2011 removal of a sailor from a fishing vessel due to a medical emergency.