Gladstone region ready to pay tribute to fallen

THIS morning, Barbara Mason will think about her husband who recently joined the ranks of soldiers who have passed away.

Robert "Stony" Mason's will be one of 18 names to be read as part of the Honour Roll at the Gladstone Remembrance Day service this morning.

He is remembered as a humorous and practical man, whose battle with the war continued long after he returned home.

"He was always making things, building things and always on the water," Ms Mason said.

"But after he left the Navy he didn't leave the battle behind. It was a lifetime struggle.

"We would be walking on eggshells around him."

Ms Mason says her late husband struggled with post traumatic stress disorder, vascular dementia and asbestos on the lungs following 12 years of full time service in the military.

The sacrifices were certainly not contained to the frontline.

Ms Mason is now the co-ordinator of the Gladstone War Widows Guild, an organisation she says is dwindling in numbers, but remains significant in its presence.

"Most of us are now in our 80s or 90s," she said. "But there are a lot of war widows who are not members of the guild.

"We provide each other mostly with company and support. And we organise the men," she laughed.

Those who are interested can inquire about joining the guild by visiting the Gladstone RSL Sub Branch.

REMEMBRANCE DAY SERVICES:

  • Gladstone: Anzac Park 10.30am
  • Calliope: 10.45am service at the Cenotaph
  • Rosedale: Service starting at 11am at Memorial Park
  • Mount Larcom: 11am service at the Showgrounds followed by morning tea at the RSL Hall
  • Boyne Island: Service at Stirling Park starting at 10.15am
  • Agnes Water: Meet at 10.45am at the Cenotaph

At just 23, Paul was one of the older ones

BOWING his head at the 11th hour this morning, the faces of fellow soldiers will come to Paul Howkins' mind. 

REMEMBERING: On Remembrance Day, Paul Howkins reflects on the faces of those who fought beside him in the Vietnam War.
REMEMBERING: On Remembrance Day, Paul Howkins reflects on the faces of those who fought beside him in the Vietnam War. Mike Richards

"I think about the fellas fighting beside me who died," he said.

"I was old compared to the rest of them. I see their faces and reflect back on what we were like as young fellas."

The president of the Calliope RSL sub-branch was 23 when he received the notice telling him he was going to serve in the Vietnam War.

"It was nothing more than a job to me," he said.

"There were good times and there were really bad times too."

Describing Remembrance Day as a "solemn reflection", Mr Howkins says he is one of the lucky ones - firstly to return from war; and secondly to reintegrate into society with little trouble.

"At the end of the day we were all just numbers," he said.

"I know a lot of the guys were shunned when they returned.

"I was pretty lucky, but didn't begin to talk about my experiences for another 10 years."

Mr Howkins says his Calliope RSL group was growing each year, proving the message of the day remains relevant even 96 years after the first Remembrance Day.

"Even though we are smaller than Gladstone we have a strong nucleus."



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