Judy Hassell gave an insight into the mixture of pride and constant trepidation she felt when her son was called up for his second tour of duty Afghanistan.
Her letter was penned before he arrived in the Middle East; “so when you arrive in Afghanistan it will be waiting for you and you will know we are thinking of you from day one.
“When you rang and said you were being deployed... my heart cried out, ‘but you have been to Afghanistan, you have already done your tour of duty over there,’ but the thought was replaced with the sensible words ‘when do you go?’”
Mrs Hassell’s letter tells of the emotional toll on his extended family, including three young sons, and of the support provided by Point Lonsdale friends.
“We worried constantly, worried you worked too hard – 7am til after midnight seven days a week – we worried your health would suffer… we worried the stress would effect you. Even the radio could effect me if suddenly a news report came through about another attack. I would freeze on the spot and wait to here where, was it near you,” the letter continued.
Upwards of 500 people attended the Lonsdale tribute. Many more stood in silence in perfect conditions at Queenscliff’s dawn service and lined Hesse Street for the traditional mid morning march.
Former Malaysia and Vietnam veteran Jed Hart gave an account of his first time as a helicopter pilot in a small experimental unit in the Mekong Delta, while Point Lonsdale Primary school captain Angelica Daniels spoke of her father, an Army Infantry Warrant Officer of 30 years.
“He’s been sent to war zones all around the world. I am so proud of my dad for what he is doing for this country. It is because of this that I take any opportunity to speak about my Dad, my hero. He is a loving dad and a committed member of the Australian Defence Force (ADF),” she said.