Rod Strahan holds the late Joan Hockins paver while Wayne Sellick adds another brick to the Memorial Wall.
Rod Strahan holds the late Joan Hockins paver while Wayne Sellick adds another brick to the Memorial Wall. Craig Warhurst

Memorial pavers mark commitment

HOLDING back his emotions yesterday Rod Strahan helped erect six memorial pavers marking his family’s commitment to serving the nation in the armed forces.

Mr Strahan, who himself served in the Army Reserves, was part of the Gympie RSL Sub-branch’s working party creating the memorial wall in Memorial Lane.

His father served in WWI with his four brothers, three returned to Australia.

Mr Strahan’s father-in-law served in WWII and his son served in the permanent air force.

“It commemorates their service and recognises their contribution to the country,” he said.

The memorial paver project, attached to the walls of the Memorial Lane, Reef Street entrance, will pay tribute to about 1200 ex-service men and women remembered with individual marked pavers.

Mr Strahan’s family legacy and others will live on in the wall.

“It’s some permanent recognition and an extension of the murals.”

This stage of the project has 98 pavers set onto the wall.

Gympie region WWI hero Gilbert Harry is the name on the first paver.

Lieutenant Harry languished for years in an unmarked Gympie grave, despite being one of the most highly decorated soldiers in Australia’s history.

The aim of the wall, Gympie RSL Sub-branch President Ivan Friske said, was to give Gympie region residents the chance to memorialise their relatives or friends who had served in the Australian armed forces and who had passed on.

It doesn’t matter where they were born, lived or died, as long as they served Australia or one of our allies in times of peace or war.

Family pavers have been grouped together from oldest members to youngest but the rest are just added on a first come first serve basis.

Tradesman Wayne Sellick said the pavers were made in Victoria and he thought it was a fantastic idea and a great asset for the town.

At $50 a paver, it’s a “very cheap” way to remember your loved ones, Mr Strahan said.

The names now stand as part of Gympie’s proud memorial tradition with images of real Gympie region people on ceramic plaques lining Memorial Lane’s walls.

Already a feature on one of the ceramic tiles, Joan Hockins’ named paver was erected yesterday.

The WWII ex-service woman had helped raise $12,000 for the mural project.

Each paver shows the person’s name, service badge, service number and post nominal, date of birth and date of death.

“It isn’t necessary for these deceased ex-service persons to have been a member of the RSL or to have served overseas, the fact that they have served is enough,” Mr Friske said.

Mr Strahan said the public just has to contact the RSL Sub-branch and fill out a form to apply.

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