Vale ~ Gary Lincoln 'Two-Dogs' Jones AFM, A56911.




EULOGY

Gary Lincoln Jones
By Richard Schofield

How do we capture a lifetime in a couple of pages?

Gary was born in Merriden, Western Australia on 21st March 1944. He has two older sisters, Gwen and Yvonne. Their parents are Alma and Syd.

As a child, Gary played all sports, including hockey, Aussie Rules, swimming, basketball, cricket, volleyball and water polo, but as he got older his true passion was golf.

Gary was a popular student at Merriden Public School where his Mum was a teacher, but that did not deter him from having several trips to the principal’s office. Even as young boy Gary had a sense of fairness, and that sense came to the front when he fought the school bully. That was one of the trips to the principal’s office, but Alma said that even though Gary was in trouble for fighting, the principal and Alma were happy that he stood-up for himself. Gary was always an advocate for anyone who tried hard, a value he showed his trainees during his time at 37 Squadron.

Gary’s first job was at Dalgety’s Stock and Station Agents. He did a bit of auctioneering there and said there was several times he found that he had bought the pen of sheep or pigs after throwing the odd phantom bid in. At 20 years of age Gary joined the air force. He had a wonderful career, and he was fortunate to meet many good friends, some he still kept in contact with years later.

In March 1967 Gary met Lynn. They were engaged six months later, and married in August 1968. They have two daughters, Louise and Raewa.

Gary went to Vietnam in 1969. He was awarded for his efforts during a hot night extraction of troops with his helicopter coming under enemy fire throughout the 15 minute operation that saved the lives of six men. It was a testing time for both Gary and his family.

He was posted to Canberra after Vietnam, and then in 1973, the family was posted to Darwin. They drove from Canberra to Port Augusta, took the train to Alice Springs and then drove to Darwin. Louise almost three, Raewa six months old and the family dog Pepe, and all without air-conditioning! It’s safe to say Gary dodged his share of bullets.

Having left Vietnam in pretty good shape, the family were living in Darwin when Cyclone Tracey hit, their home destroyed but the family was safe including their two dogs.

Gary enjoyed Darwin immensely. He flew on helicopters with some great blokes who saw rules more like guidelines really. They would take the choppers fishing in the outback, with the CO on board, putting-down where they could, keeping an eye out for crocs. On one such trip to Smith Point Gary was trying to get a better look at a crocodile the ranger had told them about. To get a better view, Gary stood on a mound of dirt which happened to be its nest. Gary said that the croc just flew out of the water, but luckily got caught-up in the wire fencing that the ranger had put around the nest.

After Cyclone Tracey the family were evacuated to Cessnock but Gary stayed behind to finish the evacuation. He rejoined his family at Cessnock and then moved to Queensland to again fly choppers.

Gary’s’ dedication to his job was never clearer than during flood rescue operations in 1976. He dived to save a civilian from mistakenly walking into a helicopter tail rotor which would almost certainly would have killed the man. In recognition of his quick actions Gary was awarded the Air Force Medal in 1977. Soon after being awarded the AFM Gary’s photo was used in the air force recruitment campaign. The family then moved to Richmond where they settled for many years, Gary joining 37 Squadron and flying on the Hercules.

Again Gary had to leave his family when he did peace keeping in the Middle East for several months. It was during this time that Lynn and the two girls became very close. After leaving the RAAF, Gary did a welfare course at tech and worked with troubled children as a welfare worker at Burnside in Sydney.

Gary retired at 57. For so many years his work had taken him away from home. It was always going to be a big adjustment, for Lynn, to have Gary home all the time, but she did and they grew even closer than ever before.

His first grandchild, Piper, was born on his birthday in March 2000, then Kate and Halle both in 2001. Gary saw magic in the three grandchildren and they adored him. He gave himself selflessly to them. Gary and Lynn baby- sat each grandchild one day a week. There was a real bond between them all.

Gary would often refer to Piper as ‘Ed’ as in Eddie The Expert, and to Halle as ‘Will’ as in Whinging Willie. He would poke fun by saying “not you two again!” The girls giving as good back in turn. Piper would say, “that’s not nice Pa”, Halle would add, “Yes we are here….and we'll be back again tomorrow !” Kate managed to avoid a nickname, instead she gave one to Gary, and he became known to them as ‘Tricky Pa’.

Gary would take the children to the zoo, feed the ducks, swim, play their games, gee-them-up and do everything a grandpa does and more. There was nothing he would not do for them.

He also pursued his great love of golf, playing two days a week at Rum Corps Windsor. For the last four years Gary was the President of the Windsor RSL Seniors Golf. It had to be very bad weather for him not to go to Golf on a Tuesday and Thursday. He loved to brag to the grandchildren about his trophies, but his greatest prize was the ‘hole-in-one’ he got in 2009.

Gary loved animals. The family has always had a dog or cat over the years. His most recent, a great friend named Suki, who happily sat with him, as Gary was a keen reader. Gary loved all war books, fact and fiction, and adventure yarns.

Wonderful memories for the family are the holidays they shared. The most recent spent in Hawaii. He was a huge part of his grand kids’ lives, and those were amongst the happiest days in his life.

It was with great sadness we learned of his diagnosis in 2009. Gary had contracted Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis, a lung disease that had no known cause or cure. He joined a drug trial but his condition started to deteriorate towards the end of 2010. Gary started oxygen therapy in December and was given an appointment to meet the lung transplant team as a transplant was his only hope.

Gary deteriorated quite quickly by the beginning of February 2011 and he entered hospital a few days later. Gary was now too unwell to be considered for a transplant.

Gary met each day that passed with dignity and grace. Not once did he complain. He spent his last days with Lynn, his daughters, their husbands and the three grandchildren at his bedside. There was no doubt that Gary's life was filled with the love of his family, the rich love of the grandchildren and the enviable love and loyalty he and Lynn shared.

Even on his last days, only weeks from his 67th birthday, he still found time for a joke, a bottle of red and a great meal shared with those closest to him. On his last day he said he’d had a “lovely day, with great food, a fabulous view and wonderful company”.

We are immensely proud of the man we call .....‘Darling’, …..’Dad’, …..’Pa’ ..… and ‘mate’. We find comfort that he was not just a passenger in life but a man who spoke-up, .… helped those in need, …. fought for his friends, .… protected those he loved, ….. cared for us when we were sick, ….. forgave our mistakes and cheered our successes.

We say hold our love with both hands Gary and take it with you, we will see you again.