RID­ING ON FOR FALLEN VETS

Ded­i­cated Viet­nam vet on a mis­sion vis­its Bur­nett towns to hon­our lost sol­diers

Central and North Burnett Times - - FRONT PAGE - Jack Lawrie jack.lawrie@cnbtimes.com.au

RE­MEM­BRANCE Ride Oz came to the North Bur­nett, hon­our­ing fallen Viet­nam veter­ans in Biggenden and Monto.

Since June last year, 71-year-old Viet­nam vet­eran Rob Eade has been on a mis­sion: to travel across every state in Aus­tralia and lay a flag at war memo­ri­als for veter­ans who lost their lives in con­flicts from the Viet­nam War on­ward.

“I was in­spired by an Amer­i­can named Mike Ehredt, who’s run over 6000 miles and placed a flag every mile to hon­our Amer­i­can sol­diers,” Mr Eade said.

“I set about re­search­ing ev­ery­thing and there’s noth­ing that’s been done on a na­tional scale like this in Aus­tralia.”

Mr Eade started off in the town of Bal­divis, WA with a mo­tor­bike and his ser­vice dog Ginge and has trav­elled roughly 22,000km from Western Aus­tralia, down along the south­ern coast then up through Vic­to­ria and New South Wales, into Queens­land.

Mr Eade came to Biggenden last Wed­nes­day and paid trib­ute to lo­cal-born sol­dier Sgt Colin McLach­lan who died in Viet­nam in a sur­prise en­emy at­tack on Fe­bru­ary 18, 1968, age 38.

He then came up to Monto on the week­end and paid trib­ute to Viet­nam vet­eran Phillip Goody at the RSL on Mon­day, along with Phillip’s brother Narelle and her daugh­ter Ma­ree Mar­bach.

Mrs Goody got in touch with Mr Eade when she heard he was in town and asked to take part in the ser­vice for her brother, who died in Viet­nam on May 1, 1970 at age 22.

Mr Eade said he gets es­pe­cially emo­tional when some­thing turns up from a fam­ily mem­ber.

“Narelle rang me up on Satur­day and asked if I could have a look at some of the mem­o­ra­bilia she had, and I said ‘Narelle thank you very much but no, I don’t want to get too close to him’ be­cause I’m only hu­man,” he said.

Af­ter many at­tempts to reach out, he got in touch with Mike Ehredt to talk about his plan, and Mike’s fi­nal piece of ad­vice was to never give up un­til it was fin­ished.

“While I’m go­ing well I’m go­ing to keep do­ing it, but every now and then I slow down and take a bit of time,” Mr Eade said.

With 600 fallen veter­ans to com­mem­o­rate, he can’t get too at­tached.

“I had a very dis­turb­ing day the other day down in Gympie, for a young lad named Birt whose mum and dad turned up and it just de­stroyed me be­cause his fam­ily was younger than I am and they’ve lost a son,” Mr Eade said.

He has a strong be­lief that younger sol­diers fight­ing and re­turn­ing from cur­rent con­flicts have it no bet­ter than he did in Viet­nam.

“There’s been 44 killed in Afghanistan and I think 49 sui­cides since they’ve come home, and that’s be­cause the peo­ple mak­ing de­ci­sions aren’t giv­ing them the due they de­serve,” he said.

“We had quite a few in Viet­nam as well be­cause the gov­ern­ment didn’t want to look af­ter them when they got home, and it’s not fair.”

PHOTO: JACK LAWRIE

LEST WE FOR­GET: Rob Eade com­forts Narelle Goody fol­low­ing a re­mem­brance ser­vice for her brother at Monto RSL.

PHOTO: ERICA MUR­REE

Biggenden RSL mem­bers joined Rob Eade to re­mem­ber for­mer sol­dier Sgt Colin McLach­lan last week.

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