Tributes pour in after one of the two Australian soldiers who died tragically when their army vehicle overturned was identified.
A man who died overturning an army vehicle near Townsville is remembered by heartbroken friends and family as a proud soldier with a “heart of gold”.
Brendon Payne, 29, has been identified as one of two Australian Defense Force personnel who died on Monday afternoon.
He and his 40-year-old colleague, who has yet to be identified, were members of the Brisbane-based 7th Combat Brigade whose vehicle crashed on Dotswood road west of Townsville.
The Ministry of Defense and the police will investigate the incident.
Payne’s aunt said on social media that she was heartbroken by her cousin’s death.
“Words cannot express the grief of my family and my brother and his family at the loss of his firstborn,” she wrote on Facebook.
“Our beautiful aimee brendon’s wife and best friend know we love you dearly and thank you for coming into our lives, but most importantly for making our brendon the happiest man ever.”
A friend wrote: “My brother, I can’t even speak, it’s like a dagger has gone into my heart, you are truly one of my best friends, my brother-in-arms, you are and always will be my brother”.
While another said Mr Payne would “stay with us forever”.
“His beautiful smile and beautiful soul. We are devastated,” she wrote.
Another friend said Mr Payne had a “heart of gold”.
Emergency services responded to reports of a single vehicle accident on Dotswood Road Monday afternoon, which also saw forensic investigators on the scene.
Despite the best efforts of paramedics and Defense rescue and medical teams, both soldiers died on the spot.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk paid tribute to the men on Tuesday.
“My heartfelt condolences to the family, friends and the entire armed forces community who are mourning the loss of two of their own soldiers in the overturning of an army vehicle in Northern Queensland yesterday,” she wrote on Twitter.
Army Chief Lieutenant General Rick Burr said supporting the soldiers’ families was his top priority.
“This is a tragic accident and our deepest condolences go out to the families and loved ones of our soldiers,” he said.
Defense Secretary Peter Dutton raised the tragedy in parliament on Monday.
“We have significant staff and resources around the Lavarack barracks,” he said.
“There are movements on the day, on the road every day, and it is a very dangerous task involving our troops, even during training exercises and moving equipment across our national highways.”
Shadow Defense Secretary Brendan O’Connor said Labor expressed its deepest condolences.
“This is tragic news and we offer our condolences to their families, friends and colleagues for this devastating loss,” he said.
If you need support, please contact one of the following 24/7 hotlines:
Defense All Hour Support Line 1800 628 036
Defense Family Helpline 1800 624 608
Open Arms Veterans and Families Counseling 1800 011 046
Ministry of Veterans Affairs 1800 555 254