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Families say War Memorial must treat peacekeepers equally

Date

Kate Corbett

Avril Clark (left) carries a box of petitions as she walks past the Roll of Honour with Sarah McCarthy at the Australian War Memorial.

Avril Clark (left) carries a box of petitions as she walks past the Roll of Honour with Sarah McCarthy at the Australian War Memorial. Photo: Alan Porritt

It is not easy for Canberra's Sarah McCarthy to visit the Australian War Memorial; it conjures up images of her late father who she feels has not been properly recognised there.

Bravely she walked into the Campbell institution yesterday, for a special meeting to push for him to be included on the Roll of Honour, along with other soldiers killed on peacekeeping missions.

''It would give the War Memorial an importance to me because at the moment I don't feel it is a war memorial in my regard because my dad's name is not there,'' Ms McCarthy said before meeting with the chairman of the Council of the Australian War Memorial, Rear Admiral Ken Doolan.

Captain Peter McCarthy, who died on January 12, 1988 while serving as a peacekeeper in Lebanon. His daughter Sarah McCarthy is fighting to have his name included in the Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial.

Captain Peter McCarthy, who died on January 12, 1988 while serving as a peacekeeper in Lebanon. His daughter Sarah McCarthy is fighting to have his name included in the Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial. Photo: Supplied

The Roll of Honour is reserved for Australian Defence Force personnel who die during or as a result of ''warlike service''.

The names of those killed in peacekeeping missions are recorded separately, in a remembrance book.

This is something Ms McCarthy is determined to change.

In 1988, when she was just a toddler, Ms McCarthy's father Captain Peter McCarthy died in an explosion in Lebanon while working as a peacekeeper.

''He was an Australian soldier serving, our government deployed him to be there as a peacekeeper, so the sheer fact that he is in a book and not on a wall that is called the Roll of Honour, that baffles me,'' she said.

Ms McCarthy said the remembrance book was barely accessible, hidden behind glass casing, and she had only heard of its existence a few months ago.

With the help of the online group change.org, Ms McCarthy and Perth mother Avril Clark have collected 17,000 signatures on a petition calling for proper recognition of fallen peacekeepers.

They presented the petition to Admiral Doolan yesterday.

''It's the sheer fact that it is putting them alongside their comrades, beside the people they trained with and what they trained for,'' Ms McCarthy said.

Six years ago, Ms Clark started her own campaign to have her son included on the Roll of Honour.

Private Jamie Clark died while on peacekeeping duty in the Solomon Islands when he fell down a sinkhole. He was 21.

''He is a hero to me as his mum but the bottom line is that the whole time he was there he was always carrying weapons, he was always wearing radios,'' she said.

''He was there helping to stop war.''

Admiral Doolan said he would table the petition at the council's next meeting later this month.

A War Memorial spokesman outlined the strict rules for the Roll of Honour: it was reserved for those who have died during service as a member the Australian Defence Force, or as a result of that service.

They must have died during or as a result of service in a conflict classified as ''warlike service'', and have died between the defined start and end dates of that warlike service.

For conflicts commencing with Afghanistan in 2001, fallen soldiers must have died within two years of returning to Australia from that service to be included in the Roll of Honour.

4 comments

  • My grandfather was killed in a training accident in NSW while in the Air Force during World War II, and his name (and names of many like him) is included on the Roll of Honour. It would make eminent sense to include names of those killed in peacekeeping operations on the Roll. Peacekeeping is a relatively contemporary concept for using defence forces, which wasn't actually envisaged back when the War Memorial was established. The War Memorial needs to adapt its rules to keep pace with change,

    Commenter
    smont
    Location
    ACT
    Date and time
    November 09, 2012, 6:51AM
    • It is a disgrace that the AWM has stone-walled for so long to deny peacekeeprs killed overseas in the line of duty recognition on the Rolle of Honour. As Peter Stanley's book "Bad Characters" shows, AIF men who died in pub brawls in WWI get their names in bronze on the Rolle, but men (and women?) who serve for peace and for Australia are denied recognition of their Sacrifice! Shame on you AWM! Let's hope that Brendon Nelson sorts this one out.

      Commenter
      Truthspeaker
      Date and time
      November 09, 2012, 9:24AM
      • If I'd have known about the petition, there would have been 17,001 signatures

        Commenter
        Imste2
        Location
        Barton
        Date and time
        November 09, 2012, 9:36AM
        • Why not go the whole hog and build an entirely new Peace-Keepers Memorial adjacent to the AWM? Then we could have a Peace-Makers Memorial.... The currency is being progressively devalued right down the line: whereas our troops in Afghanistan once would have received a single General Service Medal (purple and green ribbon) with an Afghanistan clasp, they now sport a couple of rows of ribbons - even though only a few hundred at most of our 1500 contingent are actually doing any fighting.

          Of course, as usual, the complainants will win. So, why not simply have a brass plaque headed, ''Peace-Keepers and Peace-Makers'', or whatever, bearing the names of those concerned, attached to one of the walls at the AWM.

          Commenter
          Nicomachaen
          Location
          Kingston
          Date and time
          November 09, 2012, 1:27PM
          Comments are now closed
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