Terry laid to rest at home

Kiwi sol­dier brought home af­ter 53 years is buried in Fox­ton

Horowhenua Chronicle - - FRONT PAGE - By JANINE BAALBERGEN

Pri­vate Ter­ence (Terry) Healey is fi­nally back home in Fox­ton, where he was born and grew up.

He was one of well over 100 Kiwi sol­diers who died in Asia in the 1950s and 60s while on ac­tive duty, who has been brought home re­cently at the Gov­ern­ment’s ex­pense.

Ter­ence now rests in Fox­ton’s ceme­tery be­side his beloved grand­par­ents who raised him. He was buried there last Fri­day sur­rounded by his large ex­tended fam­ily.

His com­ing home was a long, ar­du­ous and emo­tional jour­ney for his wha¯ nau.

“His home­com­ing has brought the fam­ily to­gether,” said his sis­ter Tina Wyn­yard, one of Terry’s six re­main­ing sib­lings. She was 11 when she lost her big brother.

“It was my mother’s and my el­dest sis­ter’s dear­est wish. It is sad they did not live to see this day,” she said.

Ter­ence died four weeks af­ter his 21st birth­day in a Sin­ga­pore hospi­tal. He had been trans­ferred there af­ter a mo­tor­bike crash. He was a pil­lion pas­sen­ger and was se­ri­ously in­jured. A fel­low pas­sen­ger and mate walked away with a few scratches. They were sta­tioned at Teren­dak Camp in Malacca at the time.

He had joined the army the day be­fore he turned 20 and went to Malaysia two weeks be­fore his 21st birth­day.

“He spent a month in hospi­tal and the army thought he would ben­e­fit from hav­ing his mum with him, so they flew mum over at the army’s ex­pense. It must have been a mind-bog­gling ex­pe­ri­ence for her.

“It also meant leav­ing her other nine kids back home. He was in a re­ally bad way and in the end a kid­ney prob­lem fol­lowed by sep­ticemia killed him. He was a lovely brother and all my nieces and neph­ews grew up hear­ing great sto­ries about him from their par­ents. He al­ways did things with and for oth­ers,” said Tina. She re­mem­bers him as a “cool dude”.

“He loved Elvis, cars and big ma­chin­ery.”

Ter­ence worked in a ma­chine shop in Fox­ton af­ter school and then worked at Auck­land’s Man­gere Air­port as it was un­der­go­ing a big ex­pan­sion in the early 60s.

“When that job was done he and many of the guys who had worked at the air­port signed up for the army in 1964.”

“On July 4 this year his body was lifted from his grave in Sin­ga­pore and un­til he came home there was some­one from his bat­tal­ion with him 24/7, hold­ing a vigil. Once he got home the fam­ily took over.”

Tina said her el­dest sis­ter had pe­ti­tioned to have Ter­ence brought home soon af­ter he died, but that wasn’t done in those days.

“We were able to visit his

grave one year. It had been looked af­ter beau­ti­fully.”

The whole process of get­ting him home has been han­dled “re­ally well” by the army she said.

“Each fam­ily had their own li­ai­son of­fi­cer. We had Ma­jor Ken Coombes, who was ab­so­lutely won­der­ful.

“He passed in­for­ma­tion down to us, asked us what and how we wanted things done and of­fered a bu­gler and pall bear­ers for the in­ter­ment. Of course, we said yes to that. The lo­cal fu­neral home, An­der­son’s, were won­der­ful too,” she said.

About 200 peo­ple at­tended the cel­e­bra­tion of Ter­ence’s life and wit­nessed his cof­fin be­ing placed in what will be his fi­nal rest­ing place.

“The Dis­trict Coun­cil went out of their way to ac­com­mo­date us.

“They gave spe­cial dis­pen­sa­tion and did ev­ery­thing pos­si­ble to cre­ate a plot for Terry, so he could lie right be­side his grand­par­ents. They also do­nated the plot.”

The 10 Healey sib­lings were all born in Fox­ton, but also lived in Hi­matangi later.

Ter­ence spent a lot of time with his grand­par­ents in Fox­ton. “That’s why I had no hes­i­ta­tion in bring­ing him back to Fox­ton,” said Tina.

When the gov­ern­ment said it was pre­pared to repa­tri­ate fallen sol­diers who had been buried over­seas, Tina said she got in touch pretty quickly.

“My el­dest sis­ter had been their con­tact per­son and they had lost con­tact with us af­ter she died. So many of us, in­clud­ing 16 cousins trav­elled down from Auck­land to be here for his re­turn. They’d heard of Ter­ence from their par­ents, a guy who made ev­ery­one feel spe­cial.

“This has brought our fam­ily, many of whom live far and wide, much closer to­gether. We will be plan­ning a re­union in 2020. We also got Ter­ence’s medals. I’ll be wear­ing those next ANZAC Day in Fox­ton,” said Tina.

LVN240818dbter­ence­healey2 PHOTO / DAR­RYL BUTLER

Army pall bear­ers help lay Pri­vate Ter­ence James Healey (pic­tured in­set) to rest in Fox­ton, be­side his grand­par­ents.Ter­ence died in Sin­ga­pore and was buried there in 1965.

LVN240818dbter­ence­healey1 PHOTO / DAR­RYL BUTLER

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