Balonne Beacon - - NEWS - KRISTIN SHORTEN

IT was a mo­ment of raw emo­tion. The griev­ing par­ents of an Aus­tralian sol­dier killed in ac­tion com­ing face to face with the medic who tried des­per­ately to save him on an Afghan bat­tle­field 9500km away.

“I didn’t know who to hug first, so I hugged both of them,” said Jonathan Wal­ter, who was among the last peo­ple to see David and Mary McCarthy’s son Sean alive.

Sergeant Wal­ter’s visit with the McCarthys at their Queens­land home last month was a rare com­ing to­gether of two worlds: the one of the elite med­i­cal sol­diers who look af­ter our spe­cial forces on the bat­tl­field, and the other of fam­i­lies who care the most for the troops when they’re at home.

And it was a dis­play of the hu­man­ity be­yond the war zone of com­bat medics, even if the most they have to of­fer is some so­lace to the loved ones of those they nursed in their fi­nal moments.

“It’s a sad fact that when young men go to war, some die. You just hope it’s not yours,” said Peter Robin­son, whose son Rowan was fa­tally shot by a Tal­iban sniper in 2011.

Robin­son was one of three Aus­tralian sol­diers from the Spe­cial Op­er­a­tions Com­mand killed be­tween May and July that year.

The McCarthys and the Robin­sons have broken years of si­lence about their sons’’ ddeeaatthhss toto sp­speeaakk­to­toNTe­whes CDoariply­foTre­oleu­grrsaeprhief­sorre­ovuear lsine­gri­eths eresve­cer­ael-t wino­grlt­dhe os­fe­craent we­olir­tled ob­faannd eloitfe sboal­nd­dieorsf kson­lod­wienrs kans oth­wenVaosot­d­hoeoVMooe­doicosM. edics.

Mary and David McCarthy didn’t even know their son was in Afghanistan un­til they were told he had been killed in ac­tion. The 25-year-old sig­naller would only tell them he was go­ing away “on a job” due to the se­cret na­ture of his work with the SASR.

McCarthy was wounded when the pa­trol ve­hi­cle he was in set off a bomb hid­den in the road on July 8, 2008. Wal­ter tried des­per­ately for 90 min­utes to save his life, but his in­juries proved un­beat­able.

In three tours of Afghanistan, it was the only time a sol­dier had died in Wal­ter’s hands. So when he was in­vited to the McCarthy’s home, he grate­fully made the jour­ney from his home in Tas­ma­nia.

When the 35-year-old new fa­ther ar­rived at their Toowoomba house —

which had been pre­vi­ously owned by Sean — he em­braced them in the front yard with a bear hug as they said “good to see you” and “thank you”.

The hug was long, but their time to­gether to chat over cups of tea and a shot of Jame­son Ir­ish Whiskey, made es­pe­cially for Sean, was too short.

It was “light talk” to start, about the weather and how they had both lived for a time in

Dubai. But as they re­laxed, they were able to speak about

Sean’s life and un­timely death.

The couple al­ready knew how hard the medic had tried to save their first-born.

“They never gave up,” Mr McCarthy said. “We are for­ever grate­ful to John and all of those guys.” Wal­ter said the meet­ing played “a huge part in clos­ing that loop” on what was one of his most trau­matic ex­pe­ri­ences.

“It’s re­as­sur­ing to me that they know all of the treat­ment I’d done was cor­rect and it’s re­as­sur­ing for them as well. They know that in his last minute their son was well looked af­ter.” Rowan Robin­son was treated by an­other Voodoo Medic, Dr Dan Pronk, and his par­ents of­fered sim­i­lar praise of his work.

Marie Robin­son, a nurse, read the of­fi­cial au­topsy into her son’s death.

“We know what Rowan’s in­juries were and we know that there prob­a­bly wasn’t a lot that Dan could do to save him. But he did his best,” she said.

“I know they did ev­ery­thing they pos­si­bly could to try to save Ro that day.”

Peter and Marie Robin­son mourn the loss of their son Rowan (left) but praised the medic who tried to keep him alive.

The emo­tional mo­ment Mary and David McCarthy met Jonathan Wal­ter the medic who tried to save their wounded son Sean (right) and (be­low) the McCarthys with Wal­ter. Pic­ture: Gary Ra­m­age.

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