Lachlan McMahon.
Lachlan McMahon.

Gympie soldier is recognised

LACHLAN McMahon must qualify, at least for now, as Gympie’s favourite son.

The Brisbane-based soldier was recognised this week for outstanding service in this year’s Queens Birthday Honours, despite the fact that his peacekeeping work, in Timor and more recently Afghanistan, is not formally recognised as war service.

He was named as a recipient of the Conspicuous Service Medal for “meritorious devotion to duty” as the Army’s Telecommunication System supervisor, manager and engineer in the First Signal Regiment.

There would be fewer more proud parents in the near Gympie region right now than Chris and Bev McMahon.

But the price they have paid is worrying every time the telephone rings – hoping it was not the call to tell them that something had happened to their son, Lachlan.

Family friends Larry Friske and Donna Neilson, now both senior Gympie Region councillors, clearly remember the boy who grew up in Gympie.

“Donna remembers him swimming in her pool and her driving him to school in the morning,” Cr Friske said yesterday.

“He’s in the 1st Signals Regiment. In about 1976, we gave them freedom of the city,” he said.

Chris and Bev remember all too clearly the recurring or even constant fear felt by everyone with a loved one serving in harm’s way.

Sgt McMahon did his electrical and electronics trade in the Army, after starting his working life in the Cooloola Shire Council Design Department.

Mayor Ron Dyne, who shares a military background with Sgt McMahon, yesterday paid tribute to both Sgt McMahon and Gympie RSL and Legacy stalwart Ivan Friske, who was also recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours on Monday.

“It’s a significant achievement,” Cr Dyne said.

Cr Dyne was speaking from Canberra, where he is attending the Australian Council of Local Government, the third such gathering of mayors and shire presidents from across the nation.

While attending the conference, which is being held at Parliament House, he will also lead Gympie Regional Council delegations to Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese (on the Bruce Highway upgrade and the Matilda intersection) and Environment Minister Peter Garrett (on his department’s review of fishing rights off the Cooloola Coast).

“It’s good to see that people from Gympie are recognised in the honours and awards system.

“It’s no easy feat to get this sort of recognition and it’s a credit to both Ivan and Lachlan,” the Mayor said.

Sgt McMahon’s award was made by the Governor-General.

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