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In 1945, a family in Coolah was blessed.
After five earlier daughter-blessings… they had a son!
Over the next 20 years, Coolah produced a happy and a healthy young man: Paul Large.
But Paul was not just a happy and healthy young man!
He was a young man who accepted responsibility.
He accepted duty. He was prepared to pull his weight.
A man who, when his government called, accepted the responsibility, and became a Nasho.
But not just a Nasho!
A Nasho who passed all the physical and psychological tests and became a Soldier.
But not just a Soldier!
A Soldier who passed all the additional training and tests and became an Infantryman.
But not just an Infantryman!
Paul had the fitness, skills and temperament to qualify to be posted to a Combat Platoon.
But not to just qualify for the Platoon, but to qualify as a Forward Scout in that Platoon.
That’s the man who leads the platoon when it moves. He’s the first into danger.
They talk about “the sharp end”! The Forward Scout is the very point of the bayonet.
He’s the eyes and ears of the whole Platoon.
He’s the first to spot a booby trap, the first to see an enemy, the first to respond.
He’s the most likely to be hit by a mine or an ambush.
His every step in the bush is dangerous.
He needs the eyesight, the intelligence, the quick-thinking and the instant reaction time.
He needs the ability to assess any situation and make the right decision… instantly.
If he shoots first, he needs to be a marksman.
If he stops and observes he needs to do so silently, coolly, calmly.
Paul was all of these.
But he was also so much more.
He was a person, a personality. He was popular and admired by his peers.
He was a man with a happy past and a confident future.
When in Viet Nam he was engaged to his long-time girlfriend.
They had plans and hopes and ambitions.
He had family – parents and sisters and cousins – each of them with plans and hopes and ambitions interwoven with his.
He had mates who were not called up. He had neighbours, schoolfriends, workmates…
And he was part of each of their own webs of individual hopes and plans and aspirations.
It is a tragedy that someone with so much to live for – so much potential – is the one to be taken away from us.
We, his peers, his mates, his family, his community, his whole society, are the poorer for his absence.
R I P, Paul.
It’s been 57 years and still we miss you.