JIM Wilson will never forget his mate, Shannon Mcaliney, who lost his life serving in Somalia in 1993.

He will never forget the countless others who died by suicide after returning from service.

He will never forget his own experience of war, from which he earned the army medals he wore on his chest on Anzac Day.

Mr Wilson moved to the Fraser Coast from Darwin just over a year ago.

 

New River Heads local of a year-and-a-half Jim Wilson wearing his medals from serving with the army in Somalia at the River Heads dawn service on Anzac Day 2019.
New River Heads local of a year-and-a-half Jim Wilson wearing his medals from serving with the army in Somalia at the River Heads dawn service on Anzac Day 2019. Jessica Lamb

Although he attended this year's River Heads dawn service by himself, he was not alone.

Surrounded by 100 others in the crowd, Mr Wilson was part of a community embodying the Anzac spirit, giving thanks to fallen heroes and mourning those lost to the horrors of war.

The sun had just kissed the top of Fraser Island, visible from the River Heads Community Hall when the sound of bagpipes sang out from the shadows.

 

Hervey Bay T.S.Krait navy cadets CPO ANC Steve Price, Taidhg O'Brien, Riley Arnold, Kyran Walsh and Dylan Smith at the River Heads dawn service on Anzac Day 2019.
Hervey Bay T.S.Krait navy cadets CPO ANC Steve Price, Taidhg O'Brien, Riley Arnold, Kyran Walsh and Dylan Smith at the River Heads dawn service on Anzac Day 2019. Jessica Lamb

Those gathered, many with their breasts adorned with loved ones' medals, or their own, to pay their respects to the country's forefathers.

Heralded by the drum of Scottish navy serviceman Derek Fortune Jnr and the bagpipes from his father, Derek Fortune Snr, the march past the waiting crowd included the T.S Krait navy cadets and emergency service volunteers.

 

Piper RAN Rtd Able Seaman Derek Fortune Snr with drummer Derek Fortune Jnr leading the march at the River Heads dawn service on Anzac Day 2019.
Piper RAN Rtd Able Seaman Derek Fortune Snr with drummer Derek Fortune Jnr leading the march at the River Heads dawn service on Anzac Day 2019. Jessica Lamb

President of the River Heads Progress Association Billie Rustin spoke with conviction of relating the wars one has lived through, such as Vietnam, to Gallipoli, which many in today's society only learn of through second-hand accounts.

For Ms Rustin, Anzac Day holds a special significance - a chance to connect with the father she never knew.

On her blazer she proudly displayed medals belong to her father, William Edward Duggan, abover above her grandfather's, William Patrick Duggan.

Ms Rustin's grandfather served in Gallipoli and the Western Front during the World War I.

Her father was killed in New Guinea in WWII before she was born.

 

Keran Smee reading the poem Lost Youth and president of the River Heads Progress Association Billie Rustin at the River Heads dawn service for Anzac Day 2019.
Keran Smee reading the poem Lost Youth and president of the River Heads Progress Association Billie Rustin at the River Heads dawn service for Anzac Day 2019. Jessica Lamb

Keran Smee set the emotional scene as she read out a poem called Lost Youth, which was followed by a sermon by Hervey Bay Salvation Army Captain Aaron Reid.

The dulcet tones of Amazing Grace on the bagpipes rang out over the half-mast flag pole as members of the community laid wreaths and stood for a moment, lost in mourning and memory.

It didn't matter RAEME Corp Rtd Pte Carol Metenga Reid was suffering laryngitis as a harmony of voices joined in her performance of the Australian and New Zealand national anthems in a modern day display of mateship.

After the crowd had dispersed into the hall for the gunfire breakfast, locals Shane and Alison Logan with their young daughter Dylan hung back a moment longer to stand by the memorial wreaths.

 

Locals Shane, Alison and Dylan Logan at the River Heads dawn service on Anzac Day 2019. Alison is wearing her grandfather's, Les Murphy, medals he received from fighting in Africa in WW2.
Locals Shane, Alison and Dylan Logan at the River Heads dawn service on Anzac Day 2019. Alison is wearing her grandfather's, Les Murphy, medals he received from fighting in Africa in WW2. Jessica Lamb

Alison wore her grandfather Les Murphy's medals from Africa in World War 1 on her chest in tribute to his legacy.



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