Mourners farewell fallen soldier
MURWILLUMBAH fell silent at noon yesterday as thousands of people paid respect to fallen soldier Private Nathan Bewes and his family.
Shops shut their doors and people stopped in the street as 6th Battalion, Royal Australia Regiment (6RAR) soldiers and Mount Saint Patrick College students formed an honour guard down Wharf Street.
When the service for Pte Bewes at Sacred Heart Church finished, his best mates carried his flag-draped casket, on which his father Gary and mother Kay had earlier placed a bible and cross, to a waiting vehicle ready to take his body to a private burial service at Tweed Valley Lawn Cemetery.
The casket was followed by dignitaries including Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, Defence Minister Senator John Faulkner and NSW Premier Kristina Keneally.
More than 1000 mourners spilled out onto the street and a solemn silence swept through the town as politicians and defence chiefs stood to attention, waiting for the cortege of the fallen soldier to move away.
Pte Bewes was tragically killed on July 9 in Afghanistan by a roadside Improvised Explosive Device (IED) while he was serving in the 1st Mentoring Task Force.
Sacred Heart Parish Priest David Gilbey lead the service as the most reverend Geoffrey Jarrett, Bishop of Lismore watched on. Father Gilbey told the congregation Nathan Bewes was a man of peace.
“I see no contradiction in this description, even though Nathan's chosen profession was that of arms and military service,” he said.
Through his natural talents and acquired skills, father Gilbey said Pte Bewes realised a lifelong passion and purposeful life of loyal and dedicated service.
“By his way of conducting himself, both privately, publicly and professionally, Nathan both honoured and served his family and friends with serenity and compassion.”
“No stranger to this sanctuary, his understanding of Christian love, of loyalty and mateship, has brought about a flood of sincere and heartfelt sympathy pride, support and love from all areas of his life.”