Vince Healy pictured on leave in Tokyo just after World War II. He was only 24 when he was killed in action in Korea in 1951.
Vince Healy pictured on leave in Tokyo just after World War II. He was only 24 when he was killed in action in Korea in 1951.

Korean War honour: ‘Vince has finally come home’

A war veteran's name has finally been added to his local cenotaph, 68 years after he was killed in action.

Vincent Joseph Healy's name was added to Sandgate Cenotaph this morning after lobbying from Sandgate RSL Sub Branch.

Mr Healy was killed in action in Korea on March 7, 1951.

Vincent Joseph Healy’s name was added to Sandgate Cenotaph this morning.
Vincent Joseph Healy’s name was added to Sandgate Cenotaph this morning.

Sandgate RSL Sub Branch president Peter McNamara said bureaucracy and confusion surrounding where Mr Healy enlisted were the reasons his name hadn't been added before.

"Another issue is the cenotaph is on the heritage register so you need to get a special heritage exemption to change any details on it," he said.

Mr Healy's niece Louise Evans, who wrote Passage to Pusan about her grandmother's journey to Korea to find Vince's final resting place, said her uncle was "just one of those fellows who slipped through the cracks".

"Because he signed up for service in Brisbane he was considered a Brisbane boy and at that stage his family had moved (from Sandgate) to Wooloowin," Ms Evans said.

 

 

The cover of Louise Evans’ book Passage to Pusan.
The cover of Louise Evans’ book Passage to Pusan.

 

"But the Bests (his mother's family) are Sandgate people and Vince was born and bred in Sandgate."

Ms Evans said she felt overwhelmed when Mr McNamara sent her a photo of the cenotaph with her uncle's name on it.

"The sight of my Uncle Vince's name on the Sandgate Cenotaph made me cry," she said.

"It's a very emotional development for me and my extended family. It feels like Vince has finally come home, back to where he belongs.

"Vince grew up in Sandgate in the 1920s and 1930s. He died fighting in the Korean War in 1951 aged 24.

"He was buried in Pusan in South Korea, far from his family and loved ones. None of his belongings were sent home. There was no body and no funeral.

 

Thelma Healy with a picture of her eldest son Vince who died during the Korean War.
Thelma Healy with a picture of her eldest son Vince who died during the Korean War.

 

"His grieving mother (my grandmother) Thelma Healy and his nine other younger siblings had precious little to remember their beloved big brother except treasured memories.

"But now, thanks to a campaign led by Sandgate RSL president Peter McNamara, Vince's name has been engraved on the Sandgate Cenotaph where his service and sacrifice will forever be honoured and remembered.

"It means the world to us to have something so meaningful and tangible all these years after Vince's premature death.

"We can now visit the cenotaph, trace our fingers along the outline of Vince's name, and dwell on the significant contribution he made to all our lives."

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Mr McNamara said he was "absolutely pumped" that Vince's name was now on the cenotaph.

"I was able to ring the family this morning and spoke to Louise and I could almost feel the excitement of her trying to jump through the phone," he said.

"I believe it's vital to honour veterans such as Vince in this way as one of Sandgate's fallen."

 

Sandgate RSL Sub Branch president Peter McNamara. Picture: Michelle Smith
Sandgate RSL Sub Branch president Peter McNamara. Picture: Michelle Smith

 

Mr McNamara provided the following background information on Mr Healy:

Vince Healy's story begins with his parents Mick Healy and Thelma Best, known as Thellie, whose father was Isaac Best of Best family butcher shop, cnr Third Ave and Brighton Rd, Sandgate.

Mick and Thellie married in 1926 and they set about their married life in Sandgate in Third Ave, welcoming Vince as their first born along with 10 more siblings over the next 20 years.

Vince attended Sacred Heart Catholic Primary School.

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Vince joined the army in November 1944 during World War II and served to the end of the war, training and preparing for deployment on active service.

With the end of World War II on September 2, 1945 Vince was selected to continue serving and was deployed as part of the British Commonwealth occupation forces in Japan. He was sent on operational deployment to Japan from March 1946 to April 1948 and from July 1948 to December 1948.

 

Louise Evans at a Passage To Pusan Exhibition held at Sandgate Museum in 2017.
Louise Evans at a Passage To Pusan Exhibition held at Sandgate Museum in 2017.

 

Vince was then posted to the 2nd BN RAR and then to 3rd BN RAR in August 1950.

While serving with 3 RAR he and the battalion were deployed to the Korean War in September 1950. Tragically Vince Healy was killed in action on March 7, 1951.

Vince is described by his family as being a legend in life and death. He grew up as fair-haired, blue-eyed, Hollywood handsome and imbued with alluring self-confidence.

The loss of Vince was devastating to his mother and siblings and became a catalyst for his mother Thellie to want to go to Korea after the war and find his grave in Pusan.

And Thellie Healy did this, becoming one of the very first bereaved mothers to visit the United Nations Military Cemetery in Pusan, South Korea where Vince lay.



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