Naming of vessel after son helps soothe mother’s grief

Josh Pennell Josh.pennell@thetelegram.com
Published on October 10, 2013
The Telegram printed this photo from a memorial service held aboard a Canadian Coast Guard vessel that paid tribute to Greg Peddle, Pierre Gallien and Raymond C. Welcher, who died in a 1989 accident.
— Telegram file photo

To say that Oct. 15, 1989 was a hard day for Susie Peddle is like saying the ocean is a fair size body of water.
“My mother died that morning, 10:30, and we were in the funeral home when we got the word 5 o’clock Greg was gone,” she says.

 Canadian Coast Guard chief officer Gregory Paul Peddle S.C., of Spaniard’s Bay, was Susie Peddle’s son. That day he was attempting to rescue a diver off Middle Cove when the fast-rescue craft he was in overturned. His co-workers, senior engineer Pierre Gallien and leading seaman Raymond C. Welcher, died in the same accident.

“The sea — the mighty sea, as they say — was too much for the three of them,” Susie Peddle says.

Greg Peddle was awarded the Star of Courage for his actions, and now the coast guard is naming a vessel after him.

The CCGS G. Peddle S.C. is a mid-shore patrol vessel. It’s part of the hero class of vessels, so called because they are named for decorated soldiers and peace officers. It’s 43 metres long with a displacement of 257 tonnes and a top speed of 25 knots. It was built in Halifax by Irving Shipbuilding Inc. and will be based in Dartmouth.

The first year following the loss of her mother and son was very tough for Susie Peddle. She’s been sick off and on since, something she attributes to the grip that day has held on her. It’s been slow to let her go. The naming of the vessel after her son has offered some measure of release.

“I think it’s absolutely wonderful,” she says. “It’s very relieving. It gives me a great sense of closing.”

As for what her son would think about a vessel being named after him, Susie Peddle says it was never in his personality to seek that kind of attention. She describes him as a quiet, devoted boy and man who, as a student, went to his room after school every day to do his homework, and never came out for supper until he was done.

When he won a trophy at school for some academic achievement, his mother had to find out from somebody else. Greg Peddle wasn’t one to boast. A tattoo on his arm spoke to the philosophy he lived by, and is a motto that can help explain why he would risk his life to save that of another.

“Death before dishonour” is what the tattoo read, his mother says.

But though Greg Peddle may have been embarrassed by the attention of having a vessel named after him, his family feels only pride, and gratefulness to the people involved who made it happen.

“All the family, we are so honoured,” says Susie Peddle. “This is something wonderful for us to look at and see. This beautiful boat.”

josh.pennell@thetelegram.com