WRITTEN by Dean Walker for his blog; daybydaybydean.blogspot.com.au
ANZAC Day 2011 was the last time I saw Ash. We shared a beer at breakfast and a few too many at the RSL before we headed back to his olds' place for a few more drinks.
My best mate Dale and his brother Ashley were heading to Afghanistan in the coming months. The best way to catch up before they left was showing my respect for them, and the past service men and women, on Anzac Day. At the end of the day I wished them safe travels and headed home.
It wasn't long later that I saw them on the news in their Queensland State of Origin jerseys in the middle of the desert playing footy. The next thing Ash was being interviewed by Channel 10 about being in Afghanistan with his brother and what it was like serving overseas together. Another few months went by with next to no contact. It was starting to get close to the time when the boys were due to return home. I was woken early one morning by a phone call. It was my best mate's partner. She spoke to my wife and I could tell by the look on her face it wasn't good. She was ringing to say Ash had been shot and killed in Afghanistan.
I will never forget that day for as long as I live. I have heard stories from my uncle who served in Vietnam, as well as on the news, but you never think it will be someone you know. So one year on it is Anzac Day again. I will today attend the dawn service and I will give thanks to those who have served our country.
I am honoured to have known Ash and to call him a mate. I am proud of all those men and women past and present who have served this great nation and particularly grateful to those who fought and died for this country.