Mates share memories of fallen friend 3 years after death
FOR Hervey Bay's Gary Beltrame and David Crickmore, Anzac Day is a chance to honour their late friend Ian Bryant AM following his tragic suicide.
Three years after the loss of their mate, the pair attended this morning's dawn service to pay their respects to their late friend, who they met through the Legacy Group.
But the connection to the service runs deeper for Mr Beltrame, a former Lt Col who served in south Vietnam.
"I'm particularly here to remember the fallen...Sgt Tom Birnie in my platoon in Vietnam - he was shot and killed on service. He had a three-month-old son, whom he never saw," Mr Beltrame said.
"If you look at those bricks on the memorial, my dad Charlie Beltrame is there, and so is my father-in-law Kevin O'Conner," he said as he pointed to the bricks on the cenotaph at Freedom Park.
David Crickmore was there to commemorate the service of his father, who served in the Middle East, Tobruk, Syria and Pacific Islands, and his brother who was in the Air Force.
"Like Gary, their plaques are on the wall there too. So that's why I've come today," Mr Crickmore said.
The pair said Anzac Day was about paying their respects to the people they served with in the wars, particularly in connection with the local Legacy Group.
Mr Beltrame said he was 'in awe' of the support of the Hervey Bay community and their efforts to commemorate those who served.
"I was raised in a country town of 25,000 people, and at the Dawn Service we would get some veterans and half a dozen people," he said.
"This just blows me away, I think it's quite incredible they (the public) would come and support the service today.
"The fact that we as veterans have so many ordinary people coming out just to say 'Thank you for serving' is absolutely amazing."