Mary Dohey

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Mary Dohey, CV (22 September 1933 - 12 June 2017) was a Canadian airline flight attendant who was the first living person to receive award of the Cross of Valour,[1] Canada's highest award for bravery, for her conduct during the hijacking of a commercial DC-8 aircraft in 1971.

She was the third recipient of the Cross of Valour and the first to receive the prize herself, as two previous awards were both posthumous.

In December 1975 she was awarded the Cross of Valour for bravery, where at the same time, John Joseph Arpin, the purser, received the Star of Courage and the aircraft Captain Vernon Ehman the Medal of Bravery.

At the risk of losing her life, Dohey declined an offer of safe release from an Air Canada DC-8 to remain with her fellow crew members and pacify hijacker Paul Cini, on flight 812 from Calgary, Alberta on November 12, 1971. During eight hours of terror, the hijacker, with a black hood over his head, was armed with a shotgun and two bundles of dynamite. Mary had to hold onto the wires of the dynamite and not let them touch.[2] Cini threatened to take the lives[clarification needed] of the crew and all the passengers on board the airplane. Although continually threatened with the gun, Miss Dohey spoke to the aggressor and succeeded in discouraging him from undertaking violent measures which would have killed many people. When the aircraft was diverted and landed in Great Falls, Montana, she was able to persuade the hijacker to allow all the passengers and part of the crew, including herself, to disembark.[1] With absolutely no assurance that she would come out of the ordeal alive and because of her concern for the welfare of the remaining crew members, Mary Dohey turned down the offer of release. The hijacker wanted $1.5 million.[3] The plane landed and the demands were passed over. There was only $50,000[1] in that briefcase, which was unknown to the hijacker. Mary continued to appease the hijacker until the drama was brought to an end.

Mary Dohey graduated years earlier as a psychiatric nurse and that training and experience proved invaluable. Because of the courage she displayed during the hijacking, Dohey was awarded the Cross of Valour in December 1975.[1]

Mary Dohey was considered to have saved the lives of over 200 passengers and crew members.

After the hijacking, she continued her career as a flight attendant, finally retiring in 1991, even though she suffered nightmares and fears.

She was from a large family in St. Bride's, Newfoundland.[4] She has many relatives spread out throughout Canada and spent a number of summers during her time off with her brother Harry Dohey and his family in Holyrood.

She died at the age of 83 on June 12, 2017.

There is a merit award named in her honour, administered by the Friends of Cape St. Mary.


  1. ^ a b c d Montreal Gazette. "Stewardess awarded Cross". Canadian Press, December 6, 1975, p. 13. Retrieved on July 18, 2013.
  2. ^ Ottawa Citizen. "Life sentence meant to deter plane hijacking". April 12, 1972, p. 17. Retrieved on July 18, 2013.
  3. ^ Montreal Gazette. "Air Canada skyjacker said in fair condition". United Press International, November 15, 1971, p. 1. Retrieved on July 18, 2013.
  4. ^ "Meet Mississauga's reluctant, but meritorious, Cross of Valour recipient", 29 May 2014