18 June, 2021
Veteran receives medal after 67 years
After waiting many years, Mr Casey finally receives recognition.
THIS month, history was made when veteran Patrick John Casey received service medals which we will pass on to his four children, then his 10 grandchildren, and finally – one day – his great-grandchild.
He received the National Service Medal and the Services Medal at the Longreach RSL last Saturday presented to him by RESQ+ CEO Chris Hamilton.
“It’s an important change to keep our RSL’s going, and for the diggers to be able to pass on their medals to the next generation,” Mr Casey said.
“Every child has a chance to march on Australia Day with his father’s medals and their grandchildren the same.
“We need to remember the men and women who risked and sometimes lost their lives defending our country.”
Mr Casey said as RSL memberships slipped as veterans from World War II have passed on; it was the new laws that allowed RSL’s to continue to survive as there are many who have military training but were not needed in smaller conflicts like the one Mr Casey was prepared to fight in.
“No-one truly wants to fight in a war, but I was prepared to lay myself on the line and give my talents to the mission of protecting Australia,” Mr Casey said.
Mr Casey was in the draft to be called up during the Malayan Emergency in 1954, a small known war in which Malaysian guerrilla fighters fought against the British occupation.
Thankfully, for Mr Casey much of the troops used in that war were British, and Australian forces were used sparingly.
Mr Casey was on call for two years after the beginning of the war to do any active service he was called to.
He was among 360 flight sergeants drafted into the air force for the confrontation, and only 10 per cent of those went on to serve, but he said he was willing to do his part.
“I was happy to defend my nation, as Southeast Asia is our last line of defence; in the Second World War when Singapore fell, Darwin fell soon after that,” he said.
“That’s why Longreach has such a rich history when it comes to armed conflicts, after Darwin, we are the next line of defence.”
After his service, Mr Casey took a holiday in South Africa in 1964 and ended up staying there for 16 years.
Mr Casey returned to Brisbane in 1980, but in another twist of fate came to Longreach for a holiday in 2020 — he now plans to stay long term.
Since his return to Longreach, Mr Casey has made a name for himself as a local bush poet and is also known as the Longreach Mad Hatter due to having 86 hats.
He is also a regular at the Longreach RSL, where RSL president Jim Egan got to know Mr Casey.
After a few beers, Mr Casey told Mr Egan about his service.
“You’ve done ‘natio’?” Mr Egan asked.
“I then confirmed to him that I had,” Mr Casey told the Leader.
“I was thrilled because it meant that us younger members of the RSL would be able to get our medals and pass on our medals to our children.”
Mr Egan immediately applied for Mr Casey’s medals.
Mr Casey’s medals arrived on Tuesday, two weeks ago, and he was awarded them that weekend at the RSL.
Mr Casey, each day, at 11.15am, does a preview for the Old Time Tent Show for Outback Pioneers, in which he discusses the new rules, and members come up to him flabbergasted to hear his story.
“I can tell them if their father or grandfather were in the armed forces they are entitled to their medals and should apply for them.”