Anger at medals buy-up
JIM Healy would do anything to have his father's war medals back.
Theives broke into the 63-year-old's Tugun home in September and stole the precious medals, which had been passed to him after his father died.
So when he found out someone had set up shop in Tweed asking for people to come and sell their war medals, he was outraged.
"It's ludicrous," said Mr Healy. "There is no price you can put on them. How can you put a value on someone risking their life? The medals should be passed down through the generations so the children understand that their grandfather or great-grandfather fought to save their country."
Robin Levinson has set up an antiques and collectables stall at the Tweed Centro Shopping Centre this week, offering to buy war medals.
He will pay $1000 for a Military Medal for Bravery, Military Cross and Distinguished Conduct Medal and $2000 for a Distinguished Service Order, Air Force Cross and Distinguished Flying Cross.
The cash offer could be too good to refuse for the many war veterans who would be struggling to survive financially.
Mr Healy said the eight stolen medals and set of dog tags were the only things he had left of his late father, Leo Daniel Healy, and he proudly wore them every year for the Anzac Day dawn service at Currumbin. "On Anzac Day people wear medals that have been handed down," he said. "They are owned by the people who went to war, who put their life on the line. They were issued on the basis of their overseas duties and that is something that cannot be replaced.
"As far as I'm concerned it's a no-no to sell them and for anyone to wear them other than the people who fought or their descendents is an insult to the people who died."
Kingscliff RSL sub-branch vice-president Brian Vickery, who served in Vietnam and South-East Asia, agreed with Mr Healy.
Mr Vickery said he would never consider selling his medals. "I've had mine valued for insurance purposes, but I would never consider selling them," Mr Vickery said. "As for those amounts, I think it is nowhere near enough. A bravery award is a declaration of courage. They are not earned easily or given away freely."
Mr Vickery agreed that the medals should be kept in the family for future generations to enjoy.
Mr Levinson, who works his way along the coast from Bateman's Bay to the Queensland border collecting antiques, said people often voiced their opposition to the selling of war medals.
"I agree they should be kept in the family, but a lot of the time the ones we get are those of young men who never married so they don't have a direct line of descendents," Mr Levinson said.
"Once their parents are gone, nobody knows who they are or where they came from anymore."