THE final chapter in a daughter’s battle to have her peacekeeper father, former Quirindi man Captain Peter McCarthy, recognised on the Australian War Memorial’s roll of honour has been closed.
Yesterday, the name of Captain McCarthy and 47 other men and women, previously excluded from the honour wall, were officially unveiled.
It ended a long campaign led by Captain McCarthy’s daughter Sarah and Avril Clark, the mother of Private Jamie Clark, who died after falling down a sinkhole while on patrol in the Solomon Islands in 1995, to have all those killed in the military service of Australia – whether in war, peacekeeping or some other operation – listed on the roll of honour.
Captain McCarthy was killed in a landmine explosion while on peacekeeping duties in Lebanon in 1988 but, until yesterday, his service was only recognised in a book at the war memorial.
Ms McCarthy, a toddler when her father was killed, said in November last year the war memorial would not feel like a real memorial until her father’s name was included on the honour roll.
“When I saw the book for the first time ... 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 said.
It prompted her and Mrs Clark to begin a campaign to reverse the Council of the Australian War Memorial’s decision, an effort that ended in the presentation of a petition with almost 18,000 signatures last November.
In March, the council finally bowed to public pressure, much to the relief of the servicemen’s and women’s families and their friends. Yesterday, the 48 names on new bronze panels were unveiled in the war memorial’s cloister, alongside the names of more than 100,000 others killed in more than a century of conflict.
Ms McCarthy said she finally felt a personal connection to the memorial.
“To see his name there, alongside all his other peers and comrades, it gives him the honour I have known he always deserved,” she said. “To me and my family, this means the world.”
Others include four sailors killed clearing sea mines in 1947, nine defence personnel killed in the Sea King helicopter crash in Indonesia in 2005 and, most recently, Craftsman Beau Pridue, killed in a motor vehicle crash in East Timor in 2011.
War memorial director Brendan Nelson said it was a day of immense importance for the families.
“I feel a deep sense of personal pride and satisfaction in having played a role in addressing something that wasn’t right,” he said.
Captain McCarthy was born and raised in Quirindi.