One of two Australian Defense Forces soldiers who died in a truck accident in North Queensland is remembered as a “heart of gold” who “loved his friends endlessly”.
the main points:
- Private Brendon Payne has been described as “one in a million”
- Veteran and member of Herbert Phil Thompson said the tragedy was another blow to the ADF community in the wake of the evacuation in Afghanistan.
- The veteran support line has seen a gradual increase in calls
Brendon Payne, 29, was traveling from Brisbane to Townsville for training with a 40-year-old commanding officer when Heavy vehicle overturned in army training area near Dotswood.
The couple, who were members of the Brisbane-based 7th Combat Brigade, died at the scene.
Understandably, the men were driving a multi-purpose tactical truck known as the MAN HX77.
While the identity of the investigating officer remains unknown, Mr. Payne has been identified by family and friends amid a string of tributes on social media.
“Fly Big Brother”
Pine’s aunt Michelle Ether remembers her nephew as someone who “never loved his comrades.”
“He was one in a million,” she said, “and he was the nephew of Aziz.”
“Brother, I can’t even speak. It’s like [a] dagger [has] She went to my heart,” Joshua Evans’ friend posted online.
“You are honestly one of my best friends. My brother in arms. You are and always will be my brother.
“My heart is broken, it will be forever.”
Another friend, Stephen Barrett, wrote: “He had a heart of gold, and heaven received an angel very early.”
Prime Minister Anastasia Pallaschuk and Federal Defense Minister Peter Dutton offered their condolences to the men’s families, friends and the broader ADF community.
‘Kicks keep coming’
Federal member for Herbert Phil Thompson said Townsville lost part of her family yesterday.
“It was hard to get the news yesterday,” he said. “It was one of those really sad days.”
Mr. Thompson served as a soldier in the 1st Battalion in East Timor and Afghanistan, where he was wounded in action after an explosive device detonated within a meter of him.
“This is a constant reminder of the real dangers that our men and women put every day in the service of this nation,” he said.
Yesterday’s loss, he said, was another blow to the ADF community, after many of the “brave soldiers” from Townsville were endangered. He participated in the rescue of more than 4,100 people from Afghanistan.
“Let’s see where he is now, and then get the tragic news of yesterday.
“It’s one of those times where the kicks keep going but no more than these two families.”
The community gathers to support loved ones
Stephanie Hudson, national director of veteran mental health group Open Arms, said the incident had a ripple effect through the “tight-knit” community of Townsville Defense.
“Any death is a ripple through this community and that’s a very sad loss,” said Dr. Hudson.
She said the community was rallying around the families of the victims.
Dr Hudson said a range of support services were available to the men’s families and urged anyone affected to contact the 24-hour support line.
She said Open Arms has seen a gradual increase in calls to its support line following the withdrawal of Australian military forces from Afghanistan.
Jenny Hill Mayor Townsville also offered her condolences.
“Our thoughts are with the family and friends of the two soldiers,” she said.
“The Defense Force is an integral part of the Townsville community: there are many who have served and have retired or have decided to demobilize and remain in North Queensland.
“I have no doubt that there will be people here who served with these members who died tragically and really feel sad.”
The Department of Defense said in a statement that it was working with Queensland Police to determine the cause of the overturned truck.