John NokasJohn Nokas, 1950s

John Nokas, a young man from the village of Kon, Papua, New Guinea, was awarded the Life Saving Medal in Bronze on 20 December 1955.

Nokas and Sindilin had gone four or five miles along the coast to go spear fishing. Nokas suddenly saw a shark just near where Sindilin had dived in search of fish.

The shark took Sindilin just below the elbow on the right arm and tore the flesh from the fore-arm leaving the bones bare and the hand badly lacerated. Nokas had his spear-gun loaded and immediately swam to Sindilin. He discharged his spear at the shark and started to swim with Sindilin to the reef.

The shark struck again and lacerated the left fore-arm and wrist of Sindilin, Nokas kept going and succeeded in getting Sindilin into the shallow water.

On arrival at the Naval Base the doctor was called and asked, ‘Who put these bandages on?’ Nokas said, ‘I did, sir’. The doctor then asked how and where he had learned to do a thing like that and Nokas replied, ‘I learned at St John first aid at the Mission School’. The doctor replied, ‘My boy, you have without any question saved his life’.

The opinion of the St John Ambulance Officer was that Nokas performed an outstanding act of bravery and showed remarkable efficiency in his application of first aid. His long swim from the reef to the beach, with a badly shocked patient, was an epic of endurance and fortitude in first aid of a high standard.

Source: Museum of the Order of St John

Contact and copyright info