Casey & Gary Portrait

Gary William Andrew is my Dad, my Father my parent but especially my mate. To look at us both you would think we were brothers, but that is just the strong Andrew gene. Looking in the mirror every day I get inspired – inspired to live like my hero and mate. 

When I was growing up I never really felt a strong connection with Dad. Maybe it was because I didn't play Basketball like he did or have an interest in Hot Rods like him. It wasn't until I joined the Army that we had something special in common, something that both he and I connected with. It was strange that our relationship grew once I joined the Defense Force and was posted abroad We seemed to become closer than ever before. Real mates. Mates that could have a deep and meaningful conversation.

It was like a switch had been turned on and he opened up to me after all those years of remaining silent. I believe his service in Vietnam enabled him to relate to me as a fellow Veteran with operational experience. We are now both members of a very special club of Returned soldiers that spans three generations in our family.

I remember on one of my trips home that I woke up at around 2.20 am to get a drink and saw Dad walking up and down the house checking that the doors and windows were locked. I realised that he had been doing exactly the same thing each night for forty years. Ever since his return from Vietnam he had been overly security conscious and always seemed to be on alert. Its not his fault, but was probably drummed into him during his Army days to always protect his mates, I don't think he will ever change. He is no longer protecting his Vietnam buddies, now it’s his family. I really do understand now why he doesn't like big crowds and hates travelling.

He and I are similar in looks and nature. In my thirty years on this earth he has always protected me and has taught me to be a man and how to cook a mean spaghetti bog. He has always been there for me as a Dad and most importantly, a mate. I feel comfortable with him and can talk about any subject that comes up. Every time I fly home, on leave, I look forward to having a great chin wag. I'll always remember the smile on his face as we marched side-by-side on one Anzac Day and knowing right at that moment that my Dad was proud of what I had become. 

I know that as we both grow older we will continue to be great mates. I might be a Dad one day and hope I can be a good mate to my son. As good as my mate has been to me. 

—Casey 
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