23-year-old soldier Private Nathan Bewes. He was the 17th Australian soldier killed in action in Afghanistan since 2001.
23-year-old soldier Private Nathan Bewes. He was the 17th Australian soldier killed in action in Afghanistan since 2001. Photo supplied

Murwillumbah mourns fallen soldier

A LIFE-long passion came to a tragic end on Friday when Murwillumbah-raised soldier Private Nathan Bewes was killed on duty in Afghanistan.

The 23-year-old died when a roadside bomb exploded while he was on patrol in the Chora Valley region of the Uruzgan province late Friday night, Australian time.

Parents Gary and Kaye Bewes and sister Stephanie gathered at the family home in Murwillumbah at the weekend to remember their loving son and caring brother.

“The army was his life-long passion. It was all he wanted to do,” the family said in a statement.

“When he was on leave from Afghanistan in June all he could talk about was getting back to the deployment and his mates.”

Pte Bewes, a former student at Mount Saint Patrick College, was serving in the 1st Mentoring Task Force. He was part of the Brisbane-based 6th Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment.

Pte Bewes was inspired to join the armed forces by his family’s history of military and community service.

He joined the Murwillumbah-based 225 Army Cadet Unit with friends from school when he was 13 before joining the army in 2005.

“He was a loyal friend and always cared for his mates. He just loved to look after people,” the family statement continued.

Pte Bewes is the 17th Australian soldier to be killed in Afghanistan since 2001 and the sixth to die in the last six weeks.

It was his second deployment to Afghanistan. He had also been deployed to East Timor in 2006.

Private Bewes’ partner, Alice Walsh, said she had lost her soul mate.

“Nate was the one I knew I would be with for the rest of my life,” Ms Walsh said.

“He was an amazing mate to our many friends and was loved by everyone. He always made me laugh and I have never loved anyone so much.

“He was an excellent soldier who was willing to put his life in danger along with his mates from Team 3 for the people of Australia.

“I will miss my Bewesy for the rest of my life.”

The Chief of the Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, said the loss would be deeply felt by Pte Bewes’ unit, the Australian Army and the Australian Defence Force.

“To this soldier’s family I offer my heartfelt sympathies and promise the full support of the Australian Defence Force in the hard days and weeks ahead,” he said.

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