Veteran Matt Williams, who is fighting cancer, had an Australian flag stolen while fundraising for Cure Brain Cancer — but has since received replacement flags from on-duty soldiers who heard his story on social media. Picture: AAP / Dean Martin
Veteran Matt Williams, who is fighting cancer, had an Australian flag stolen while fundraising for Cure Brain Cancer — but has since received replacement flags from on-duty soldiers who heard his story on social media. Picture: AAP / Dean Martin

Awesome gesture from serving Aussie soldiers

A Semaphore veteran fighting brain cancer has received acts of kindness all the way from Afghanistan and Iraq, after a keepsake of his time serving overseas was stolen.

Private Matt Williams, who served in Afghanistan with the Australian Army, was diagnosed with brain cancer in March and will start his ninth round of chemotherapy today.

Since his diagnosis, the 22-year-old has held 2km tyre flip challenge events around the country, raising money for the Cure Brain Cancer Foundation.

Pte Williams has raised more than $52,000, but in October his fundraising effort experienced a sour note after an event at Semaphore beach.

"I have a camouflage Australian flag that I had made when I was in Afghanistan and I took it to the event at Semaphore and hung it up at the end with some cable ties," he said.

"But when I was clearing everything up I noticed some cut cable ties and the flag was gone."

Pte Williams said he had engaged a local tailor while he was on tour to make the camouflage flag, which he carried with his body armour and hung above his bed.

"It has a lot of value to me, it was a one-off made by an Afghan tailor," he said.

Pte Williams said he was so shocked that his flag was missing that for weeks he believed one of his friends had taken it as a joke.

Veteran Matt Williams received replacement flags from soldiers overseas after his was stolen at Semaphore Beach. Picture: Tait Schmaal
Veteran Matt Williams received replacement flags from soldiers overseas after his was stolen at Semaphore Beach. Picture: Tait Schmaal

"Once I realised it wasn't a joke I was pretty angry," he said.

"I couldn't believe that someone would take it."

After some of Pte Williams' fellow servicemen and women found out about the less-than-impressive act, they took matters into their own hands.

On Wednesday, he received a shipment of camouflage flags from Iraq and Afghanistan, which came as a complete surprise to him.

A politician, who Pte Williams said declined to be named, also sent a large Australian flag.

"It was pretty amazing," he said. "The boys in Afghanistan and Iraq made it up especially for me."

Pte Williams will continue to hold events raising money for the Cure Brain Cancer Foundation this year.

He details his battle on his Instagram page @willy.beating.cancer.



Families shown footage of capsized vessel at inquest

premium_icon Families shown footage of capsized vessel at inquest

Two-week inquest into fishing deaths begins

BoM cancels severe thunderstorm warning

BoM cancels severe thunderstorm warning

The Bureau predicts damaging winds and large hail stones

Councillor calls out senator's 'bad behaviour'

premium_icon Councillor calls out senator's 'bad behaviour'

He refused to call Senator Anning by name during a passionate plea.