A LONG and harrowing campaign to have a dead soldier recognised for his peacekeeping duties just like any Digger lost on the battleground will see former Quirindi man Captain Peter McCarthy’s name included on the Australian honour roll.
An historic decision in Canberra yesterday means that former Quirindi High School student and regular army captain Peter McCarthy’s name will soon be seen alongside others who have died in service.
Yesterday, the Council of the Australian War Memorial (AWM) agreed to recognise all members of the Australian Defence Force who have died on operational service, including non-warlike operations, on the Roll of Honour.
Previously, those, like Captain McCarthy, who died whilst on peacekeeping duties in Lebanon in 1988, were recognised in a book at the AWM, but were not able to have their names on the honour roll.
Captain McCarthy’s daughter, Sarah, and Avril Clark, whose son, Private Jamie Clark, died in the Solomon Islands in 2005, organised a petition that garnered more than 17,800 signatures.
Captain McCarthy died in January 1988 when his vehicle hit a landmine in southern Lebanon. Private Clark was 21 and on patrol searching for weapon caches when he fell into a sinkhole and died in March 2005.
The War Memorial council’s chairman, retired Rear Admiral Ken Doolan, tabled the petition last November.
Ms McCarthy was a toddler when her father was killed.
She told The Sydney Morning Herald, in a story from November 14 last year, that the War Memorial would not feel like a real memorial until her father’s name was included on the Roll of Honour.
“When I saw the book for the first time on Thursday it really brought it home to me that they’re saying my dad’s different and he’s not worthy of the Roll of Honour,’’ she told the newspaper.
“And then on Remembrance Day, others could place a poppy on the wall next to their loved ones, but Avril and I could only turn a page in book and place a poppy there. It didn’t seem right.”
Forty-eight Australians have been killed in post-World War II peacekeeping and humanitarian operations.
Veterans’ Affairs Minister Warren Snowdon has applauded the decision of the council. He said he considered it a timely change as we prepared to mark the centenary of World War I and paid special tribute to all those who have served their country.
All the names of Defence personnel currently recorded in the Remembrance Book will be added to new bronze panels to be installed on the Roll of Honour wall in the memorial’s commemorative area.
“The council’s decision reflects the views and expectations of many in the community on this important issue,” he said.
“This will ensure that those who have served our nation with distinction are properly recognised and I know that this decision will be of special significance for the families involved.”