Obituary – Brigadier Neil Harvey Weekes AM MC

Written by Ross Eastgate.

NEIL Weekes was never known to walk away from a fight, whether on Vietnam’s battlefields or battling bureaucracies over veterans’ benefits.

He lost the toughest battle of his life in Brisbane on Monday when an aggressive brain tumour claimed one of Australia’s toughest soldiers of the contemporary era at the age of 71.

Neil Harvey Weekes (pictured) was born in Mackay on September 21, 1945. He was educated in Sarina and at St Brendan’s College in Yeppoon before entering Teachers Training College at Kelvin Grove in Brisbane.
He was called up for national service on February 1, 1967.
At Kapooka he was selected for officer training and after graduating from the Officer Training Unit Scheyville on July 7, he was posted to 3 Platoon, A Company, 1 RAR.
He deployed to Vietnam with the battalion in March 1968, leading his platoon in the Battle of Coral on May 15-16, with his gallantry recognised by the awarding of the Military Cross.
He returned to Australia to be discharged at the end of his national service in December 1968 but was soon back in the army and 1RAR, serving with the battalion in Singapore and Malaysia during 1969-1971.
He also served in Papua New Guinea with 2 RPIR at Wewak, and attended the Malaysian Armed Forces Staff College at Kuala Lumpur.
He was a consummate infantryman, leader and instructor, holding many demanding staff, regimental and training postings, including at the Royal Military College, Duntroon.
From July 1985 to December 1987 he commanded NORFORCE, a regional surveillance unit with subunits based throughout the Northern Territory and the Kimberley area of Western Australia. He was appointed a member of the Order of Australia (AM) for his leadership.
He returned to Townsville in December 1990 on promotion to colonel to command the district support unit, beginning 22 years in the city.
He retired from the regular Army in 1993 after 26 years service, but would remain in the Army Reserve for a further five years, being promoted to brigadier and commanding 11 Brigade, Ares at Jezzine Barracks.
His civil employment was with James Cook University, where he was executive officer to the Vice-Chancellor until he retired in October 2003.
Retirement for Brigadier Weekes was relative as he was Townsville patron to the Vietnam Veterans Association, National Servicemen’s Association and the RSL.
As chair of the North Australian Military Heritage Association, he was instrumental in Jezzine Barracks being handed over to the Townsville community.
He was Townsville convener of the Order of Australia Association and an inaugural member of Ministerial Advisory Council on Ex-Service Matters.
For many years he was the radio voice of Townsville’s Anzac Day march.
In recent years the passionate fisherman had lived on Bribie Island.
Brigadier Weekes is survived by his wife Jo, children Marie, Mark and John and six grandchildren.
Read Ross Eastgate’s article here

Comments

  1. Linda Schneider says

    I worked with Brig. Weekes for a short time while I filled in for his secretary who was on maternity leave at DSG-NQ. I felt quite honoured to be working with him. I will always remember his motto,”Lead, follow or get out of the way. ” Rest in peace. My condolences to the family.

  2. DENNIS SCHOLTZ says

    my name is dennis scholtz i served with neil in vietnam in 1968
    he was a great man who cared for his men he was a great platoon
    leader who you could allways talk to miss you skipper rest easy
    good bye old friend

  3. John Weekes says

    Ted,

    First of all may I say that I am proud, and humbled by the condolences I have received in regards to my father’s death. 2nd could you please correct the spelling of my sister’s name Maree (not Marie). 3rd, if people wish to send condolences by way of flowers please do not – my mum (Lyn Weekes) and dad were against that, and would prefer you to make contributions to any of the Vietnam Vetrans Associations, in particular those in Brisbane, who have shuttled dad in and out of hospital for several months for his various treatments.

    Dad was the loving husband of Lynette (Lyn) Weekes, father to my brothers Mark and Neil, and my sister Maree, as well as myself for 40 years before Jo appeared. If you could amend your post accordingly, please do so.

    Kind regards,

    John Weekes