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A soldier was farewelled today
4 RAR Colours
RAR Cap Badge
One who offered his life for so many was farewelled by so few.
On Monday 12 June 2017 a soldier left this life. On Tuesday 27 June 2017 a soldier was farewelled.

The soldier was farewelled in the presence of 16 people but only three from his own association and four from the 4 RAR Association. 

It seems that no one else cared that a warrior was being farewelled even after so many invitations to attend were distributed.

What a sad reflection on us all. I only hope that when we fall over and are farewelled that someone cares enough to farewell us.

1735808 Private John Kenneth James Barrett formerly was a member of 1 ARU and 8 RAR who served in Vietnam from June to November 1971 in service to his country. John led a solitary life in his later years and the most that is known is that he was married twice and was estranged from both families for some twenty years. His family was the couple, Suzanne and Johno and their young daughter who lived next door. Their four year old daughter called John, "Poppy John" and John referred to the young couple as his "adopted family".
John died in Greenslopes Private Hospital and it was some days later that Johno and Suzanne found a card in his possessions with the address of the Vice President of the Malay and Borneo Association, David Brewer former member of the RAN. Dave in turn contacted me because I am also a member of that association and because I was an RAR member. I then spoke to Suzanne and discovered that John had no known relatives, the Greenslopes hospital wanted John's body removed and Suzanne had little knowledge of what to do. I then notified Clive Mitchell-Taylor the state representative and asked if the 8 RAR Association and passed the news onto him. As I lived close to Suzanne, I offered to be the liaison between the family and the 8 RAR Association.

Our tasks were subsequently divided in that Clive would investigate the actions to be taken for John to be buried and I would look after the family side of things and present the military eulogy for John at his funeral service.  After a whirlwind for Clive of receiving , "so what, nothing we can do" and "not our responsibility" from agencies  that we considered should be obligated to assist, Clive made a breakthrough and was able to arrange a service for John prior to his being cremated. Suzanne was considered by DVA to be John's next of kin and was notified that $2,000 had been allowed towards John's funeral. Post death payments into John's bank account allowed him to be farewelled at no cost to Suzanne, her family or any association or so we thought at the time but we now know that the 8 RAR Association paid a substantial amount towards the funeral. John actually died intestate with very little finances and salvageable possessions.

At this stage DVA and the Public Trustee were no longer in the picture and they unhappily, were comfortable with that! I then sought John's eulogy information from Defence Archives, translated it into English as a resume of service and placed it in a frame.
I then wrote a military eulogy based on the information from ADF Archives and Suzanne that included a description of John's service, a resume of his service record and a poppy service which I presented during the service.

In the meantime, I contacted the 8/9 RAR 2IC Major Mick Spruce, and requested a bugler and piper to assist in farewelling John. That request was granted and Pipe Sergeant, Private Tim Anderson graciously piped the attendees into and from the chapel and Private Jay Hart offered the Last Post and Rouse.

I provided the 4 RAR Association slouch hat, bayonet and ANF flag for the service. 
After the poppy service, Clive presented Suzanne with the framed record of service, the Australian National Flag and the 8 RAR sash.

The service was conducted in the presence of only five community members, a child and only eleven service representatives:
Pte Tim Anderson, Pipe Sergeant, 8/9 RAR Pipes and Drums
Pte Jay Hart, Bugler, 8/9 RAR Pipes and Drums
Clive-Mitchell-Taylor OAM, JP, Qld Representative of the 8 RAR Association, Inc
Margaret Mitchell-Taylor, wife of Clive
Ken Falvey, The Qld State Secretary, 8 RAR Association, Inc
David Brewer RAN, Vice President National Malay and Borneo Association Inc, Qld Branch
Alan Price, President 4 RAR Assoc, Qld Inc
Maureen Price, Treasurer 4 RAR Assoc, Qld Inc
Rick Male, Committee Member 4 RAR Assoc, Qld Inc
Adrian O'Bryan, 4 RAR Assoc, Qld Inc
David Heit, 4 RAR Association, Qld Inc

Both Adrian and David took time off from work to farewell a warrior. Maureen and I thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Thank you both.
Not one of those mentioned apart from his adopted family knew John personally, Only 2 had served with the same unit as him and six from two different associations had no previous knowledge of John at all. All were prepared to farewell a warrior in the tradition of our service and post service life and the constitution of our combined Association. A potentially lamentable situation was salvaged in part by those who did attend but I hope I will never again experience a warrior farewelled by so few.

I have heard the expression that, "I did not know him" from many former soldiers at various times offering an excuse not to attend the farewell of a warrior. I have even heard it from welfare officers of some Associations whose commitment is to assist, attend and even officiate at the funerals of association members. 

Will you attend the next farewell for a warrior, would you like fellow warriors to attend your farewell?  I surely hope so.

We sincerely thank the Commanding Officer, officers and soldiers of the 8th/9th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment for the privilege of allowing us to farewell John as a soldier. Gentlemen, thank you.

Alan Price
4 RAR Assoc, Qld Inc
the motto of the Royal Australian Regiment
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