Family, friends, to farewell their beloved brother
FAITH. Sacrifice. Compassion. Companionship.
They are the four pillars Andrew Ryan says characterised his late son, Australian soldier, storyteller, mate and much-loved Joel Ryan.
Joel enjoyed spending time with mates riding their motorcycles in the scenic Adelaide Hills on weekends off exercise. His last ride was on Saturday, November 25, when a tragic accident cut short a 24-year-old adventure that had barely begun.
Andrew vividly remembers the moment he learned of the accident, as police officers and the Army bereavement team arrived to pass on the news no parent wants to receive.
But for Andrew and wife Linda, Joel's legacy is the lasting impression he left on the lives of those around him.
"Obviously we're biased but he was the best," Andrew said. "We'll miss him so much."
Joel was born on October 15, 1993, and moved with his parents, five brothers and sister, to Hervey Bay as a 13-year-old in 2007.
An active teenager, Joel participated in swimming, snorkelling and jet-skiing, he played Aussie rules for Bay Power and graduated from Urangan State High School in 2010.
In all Joel did, Andrew says, he was driven by a desire to serve and to help those around him.
"They use the word 'mate' a lot but it's that concept of companionship. He was happy to do whatever he could for anyone who needed anything," Andrew said.
Andrew believes Joel's desire to serve will be his lasting legacy.
A then- six-year-old Joel dreamed of joining the army, which Andrew says he first expressed after spending time with his late grandfather, himself an early SAS member.
"We don't know how he picked it up but he saw things differently, and he just wanted to make a difference," Andrew said.
Joel was deployed to Afghanistan in 2013 with the 2 Cav Task Group, and again in 2016 as part of Operation Highroad. A more-matured Joel returned to Hervey Bay earlier this year, but the dream of serving as a SAS Sapper had changed to the goal of becoming a paramedic.
His plan was to complete a paramedical science degree, gain a scholarship from the Australian Defence Force, then serve in accident and emergency rescue.
Joel was driven by faith, and was the first to sacrifice anything big or small to help someone in need.
He was a great mate to many, and did all he could to improve the lives of others.
That impact, Andrew says, is what made Joel a good mate, a great son, a caring uncle - simply, the best.
Friends and family will farewell Joel Andrew Ryan this morning at 11am at Bayside Christian Church.
The family has requested donations be made to Legacy in lieu of flowers.