THE partner of Pilliga soldier Nathanael “Nate” Galagher has vowed her unborn son will grow up knowing what a wonderful man his father was.
In a statement released by Private Galagher’s family, parents Sally and Wayne, sister Elanor and partner Jessie Feeney said Nate would always be a hero to their family, including his unborn son who would carry on his name.
“There was no trait of Nate’s that I wouldn’t want his son to inherit,” Ms Feeney said.
Private Galagher’s body, along with those of four other Australian servicemen who were killed last week in Afghanistan, arrived home late yesterday.
Private Galagher’s family said the army was just one part of his life, saying their Nate was a country boy at heart.
“Our dear Nathanael, who was also known as Nate, loved the army, but it was only one part of what made the man.
“The earth surrounding Narrabri was where he was truly at home.
“He’d grown up in that region, and even though the army took him from Townsville to metropolitan Sydney, Narrabri was where he truly belonged.
“We will miss Nate’s caring, loving ways.”
The deaths of the five soldiers has been described as the Australian military’s darkest day since the Vietnam War. Private Galagher, 23, was killed on August 30, along with four other Australian soldiers serving in Afghanistan.
He died with his comrade and friend Lance Corporal Mervyn McDonald when a helicopter crashed in the Helmand province.
Yesterday, the bodies of the five diggers returned home to ramp ceremonies at Brisbane’s Amberley RAAF Base and Sydney’s RAAF Base Richmond.
In an interview published in Narrabri’s newspaper The Courier, Pte Galagher’s mother, Sally Phelps, said her son’s dream from early childhood was to be a commando.
Private Galagher grew up in Pilliga and Forbes, attending Pilliga Public School and completed his education at Forbes. He played junior league for the Wee Waa Panthers and Forbes Magpies.
Mrs Phelps said after moving back to Narrabri, her son enlisted in the army as a rifleman in October, 2007, and was stationed at Singleton before being tranferred to 1RAR at Townsville in 2008.
He was deployed to Afghanistan for his first tour in August 2009, then his second tour in July of this year before it was tragically cut short.
Mrs Phelps said her son was living his dream, and was the best son and big brother any family could hope for.
“It speaks volumes about Nate that he’d reached his ultimate career goal of joining the 2nd Commando Regiment at such a young age. Marching out of his training in December last year was one of the proudest moments of his life.
“We all attended the parade together. Nate was so thrilled to place the green beret on his head for the first time, ”Mrs Phelps said.
Jessie Feeney said that becoming a father was so important to Nate.
“You’ve never seen a man so happy to hear the news that he had a baby on the way.
Ms Feeney said that Private Galagher idolised Lance-Corporal Mervyn McDonald who was also killed in the helicopter crash.
She said she last saw Nate at the airport when he departed in July, and Merv had turned to her and said, “Don’t worry Jess, I’ll bring him home.”