Owen hits back
Isis RSL Sub-Branch president returns fire over claims he misrepresented his service
ROY Owen has sought to clear his name as he awaits the outcome of an RSL (Queensland Branch) tribunal hearing.
The Isis RSL Sub-Branch president openly admitted his guilt in wearing service medals on the wrong side of his chest during four Anzac
Day dawn services this year (Doolbi, Cordalba, Apple Tree Creek and Childers), but denied accusations he is an “imposter”.
It comes after Australia New Zealand Military Imposters (ANZMI) branded Mr Owen a medals cheat on its website and Facebook page.
The complaints about Mr Owen wearing medals on the wrong side were made to the RSL, and were proven at a tribunal hearing at Maryborough RSL Club last Thursday. At least six other complaints unrelated to the medals issue were heard at the tribunal, but the RSL would not comment before a resolution early next month.
In a statement to Isis Town & Country, Mr Owen admitted he breached bylaw 14.8 of the RSL (Qld Branch) State By-Laws that require a member to wear the awards of a deceased family member on the right.
“On Anzac Day 2014, I wore my father’s WWII medals on my left breast and my service medal on my right breast in breach of (the bylaw),” the statement said.
“This was not deliberately done. It was a mistake.”
Mr Owen also denied accusations the medals belonged to wife Jill’s father, which is not allowed under the bylaws.
He said they belonged to his father Desmond, who served in the Second World War and the Civilian Military Force (CMF).
The Owens were forced to replace his father’s medals after they were lost “some years ago”, and had a set of reproduced medals made by a business who researched and confirmed Desmond’s service history, and what medals his father was entitled to wear.
He said Jill prepared and pinned the medals to his jacket for Anzac Day the night before.
“Unfortunately, Jill incorrectly pinned my father’s World War Two medals on the left side of my jacket and my medal on the right side of my jacket,” Mr Owen said.
“Jill has provided a statement to the RSL (Qld Branch) Tribunal explaining what she did. A friend of hers, who was staying with us at the time, has provided a statutory declaration.
“I’ve accepted that the medals were displayed on the wrong side. I’ve apologised for my error. It wasn’t my wife’s obligation to display them correctly. It was mine.”
While it could be argued Mr Owen should have felt the difference between the medals’ weights, he says the combination of “lighter reproduced medals” and his “heavy suit jacket” meant he did not notice.
The Owens are determined to clear their name.
“I would never deliberately do anything to bring the RSL, the Isis Sub-Branch or my family – particularly the memory of my father – into disrepute,” Mr Owen said.
“AMZMI did not do me the courtesy of checking with me before branding me a medals cheat.”
The Owens have considered taking legal action against the ANZMI website for what he claims are defamatory comments.
DIFFERENT DAY: Isis RSL president Roy Owen at Remembrance Day in Childers.