Seventy years after he served in the treacherous waters of the Arctic Circle and escaped death not once but twice, Second World War veteran Thomas Bowen Jones was rewarded for his courage.
Jones, 91, was honoured Saturday with the Arctic Star, a campaign medal the United Kingdom bestows on veterans who served above the 66th parallel.
Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo MP Cathy McLeod delivered the medal to Jones during a ceremony at the Royal Canadian Legion while his family and dignitaries watched.
Although he risked his life during several convoy missions to Murmansk, Russia, the former petty officer with the Royal Navy said he's not a hero.
To Jones, the real heroes are the men from his small Welsh village who died during the war and his comrades on the HMS Lark who perished in the frigid Atlantic waters when it was hit by a German torpedo
"Those people who died for their country, they are the heroes," said Jones, upon receiving the Arctic Star.
The Lark was Jones' second vessel during those long, cold missions in waters Winston Churchill called the worst journey in the world.
His first, the HMS Woodpecker, was torpedoed in February 1944. Fortunately, the torpedo struck a part of the vessel that was unmanned at the time because the ship was out of depth charges after sinking six U-boats, said Jones.
"Nobody was killed. Not one," he said. "It was marvelous."
His village, however, did not fare as well, he said. Of the 1,500 people who lived there at the time, 19 didn't return from the war.
"Those are the people who should have got the medal," said Jones.
Still, Jones appreciates the recognition and the effort his son-in-law, Jim Bench, put into getting him the Arctic Star.
Bench told the ceremony he was compelled to explore his father-in-law's war history because Jones never talked about it in detail, he said.
Knowing what Jones did, Bench wanted to celebrate his father-in-law's Arctic Star with an event in his honour, he said.
Representatives from the Royal Canadian Navy and Rocky Mountain Rangers attended the ceremony. Commander Stan Bates of the navy said the work Jones did was crucial to keeping Britain's Russian allies supplied while they fought the Nazis.
Bates said the route to Murmansk was fraught with peril, including fierce storms that tossed ships like toys and ice floes that are hard to detect.
"Not to mention the ever-present danger lurking beneath the surface," he said of the U-boat submarines.
Legion past president Dave Warriner emceed the ceremony. To the best of his knowledge, Jones' Arctic Star is the first awarded in Canada.