Family of fallen soldier calls for mate to be honoured
THE family of Kingscliff Sapper Rowan Robinson, who was killed in action in Afghanistan in 2011, have called for a memorial for his fellow slain Tweed digger Nathan Bewes.
A strong crowd gathered at the official opening of the new Rowan Robinson Park in Kingscliff on Saturday, including family and friends of the 23-year-old combat engineer who died on June 6, 2011 while serving in Afghanistan.
Several soldiers who had served alongside Rowan in the Incident Response Regiment, including his former commander Scott Corrigan, attended the event - many of whom had not seen each other for years.
Rowan's father Peter Robinson thanked the community for honouring his son by naming the park after him.
"The Robinson family is humbled and proud at what a dedicated few, a passionate community and Tweed Shire Council have achieved here today in naming this magnificent park in honour of our son Rowan," Mr Robinson said.
"Nearly seven years on, it is inspiring to know that he is still remembered. Shortly after Rowan's death in Afghanistan, a warrant officer from the Incident Response Unit said: 'He wasn't here long but he left his mark'. Those few words epitomised Rowan's short life. During his 23 years, Rowan touched the hearts and souls of many with his big grin, his huge laugh and his passion. Hopefully when visitors come to this park and stop and read his story, he may touch the hearts of a few more."
Mr Robinson said his son "would have been extremely proud to know the locals still call him a local" with the park named in his honour only metres from his final resting place.
However, he called for a similar honour to be bestowed upon the family of Nathan Bewes, who was killed in action the year before Rowan.
"It would be remiss of me not to mention that Rowan was not the only soldier from this shire to be killed in action in Afghanistan," Mr Robinson said.
"Nathan Bewes from Murwillumbah was tragically killed on July 22 in 2010 and I would hope that Tweed Shire Council, Murwillumbah RSL and the community of Murwillumbah can do something similar for him.
"The soldier, above all other people, prays for peace, for he must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war. The brave may not live forever but the cautious do not live at all."
Hemmo De Vries, who served alongside Rowan, said the occasion gave the boys an opportunity to celebrate Rowan's life.
"This is about celebrating a bloke who was at the peak of his physical prowess, who loved the sun, the beach, his mates, his beers. He loved to work hard and play hard."
Another fellow digger, Lance Corporal Mark Noble, said it was touching to see Rowan recognised like this.
"It's really nice for the family and the boys (from the unit) to see him recognised like this," he said.