Community pays respects to fallen soldiers
For locals in the regional town of Quilpie, reaching the knoll on Warrego Highway overlooking the Western Queensland countryside is a sign that you’re almost home.
CAPTION: Lance Corporal Rick Milosevic’s partner, Kelly Walton, and their daughter lay a wreath at ‘Rick’s Jump Up’ memorial in Quilpie. Story by Captain Taylor Lynch. Photo by Major Roger Brennan.
Now it’s also a place to remember three soldiers killed in action in Afghanistan: Private Robert Poate, Sapper James Martin and Quilpie local Lance Corporal Rick Milosevic.
On August 29, 2012, the three soldiers were playing cards at Patrol Base Wahab in Uruzgan province, Afghanistan, when a rogue Afghan soldier turned on them, killing them before they had a chance to react.
The incident was an unforeseen tragedy, and the feeling of loss was felt throughout the Australian Army.
Ten years later, on August 29, the three fallen soldiers were honoured at a memorial service on a knoll east of Quilpie known as the “Jump Up”.
CAPTION: Rouse is played during the unveiling of Rick’s ‘Jump Up’ memorial in Quilpie, Queensland. Photo by Major Roger Brennan
A newly constructed memorial was unveiled on the day with family, mates, community and representatives from across the Australian Army paying their respects.
Chief of Joint Operations Lieutenant General Greg Bilton was Commander of the 7th Brigade at the time of the incident in 2012, and travelled to Quilpie to attend the memorial.
“As an Australian I’m very proud to be here and see a community come together to honour the service of one of their own,” Lt-Gen Bilton said.
“The links of family and friendship to this community are important, and there’s a couple of families now that the town has adopted.
“The 2nd/14th Light Horse Regiment in Queensland will forever have a bond to Quilpie that wouldn’t have otherwise existed without Rick’s loss of life.”
Lt-Gen Bilton extended his appreciation for all the work that had gone into the new memorial, which holds particular significance to the tight knit Quilpie community.
“It’s lovely; a lot of thought has gone into it,” Lt-Gen Bilton said.
“I didn’t realise this was a place that Rick and his friends would come in their utes to drink, catch up and enjoy each other’s company, and what a perfect location to place a memorial.
“This is personal, and it really illustrates the connection between the community where Rick grew up before he joined his Army family.”
Following the memorial service in Quilpie, a service was held at Gallipoli Barracks for the 6th Battalion’s Private Robert Poate, who was killed in the same incident.
Private Poate’s father, Hugh Poate, was happy to see his son’s service and sacrifice honoured by the 6th Battalion.
“We do very much appreciate the fact that Robert’s old battalion has acknowledged and commemorated his service, and have invited us to be part of it; it means a lot to us,” Mr Poate said.
“It was really nice to see some of his old friends that he got to know while he was serving, and that friendship continues on.”
Mr Poate described the pride his family has for his son’s service to the nation.
“We’re very proud that he served his country, we’re proud that he was part of this battalion which has got such a proud history, and we’re thankful that his contribution has been acknowledged,” he said.
“It’s also helpful for his mates that these services continue, so they can talk about the good old times.”