When Umina resident Ian Wilkes opened a box of war memorabilia belonging to his late father, little would he know he would set up an emotional reunion in central western NSW.
In amongst his father’s medals and mementos he was surprised to have found a mysterious set of honours under another veteran’s name, one Private Vivian Huckel, who served in Darwin during World War II.
Ian happened to mention the find during a chance meeting with Senator Deborah O’Neill, which set off a search in her office – in true Anzac spirit – that wound up in Grenfell.
It was there that Vivian’s brother, Ron, was traced and Senator O’Neill is looking forward to reuniting the medals and the Huckel family today in Grenfell at Memorial Park.
Apart from the reunion, the story leaves more questions than answers.
How did Ian’s dad Noel Wilkes, who served at Fort Scratchley in Newcastle, come to be in possession of the medals awarded to Vivian, who hailed from Pullabooka near Forbes and was stationed in Darwin??
“It is a mystery that endures for both of these gentlemen,” Senator O’Neill said, “but it was, for me, wonderful to play a part in returning the medals to Ron and the family.
“It is amazing that after all these years the determination and care for others so evident in the Anzac spirit lives on in new ways like this in our own time.
“Mr Wilkes is now happy that he has found the right home for the medals and another Anzac inspired connection that spans both decades and distance has been formed.
“I'm just so happy to have been able to help make this happen for both the Huckel and Wilkes families.”
Senator O’Neill will present the medals to Ron Huckel at 1pm, Friday, April 21 (today) at The Grenfell Cenotaph in Memorial Park.
All members of the community are invited to come along for the special presentation.
Be sure to check Page 8 of today’s Grenfell Record for our special ANZAC Day feature which includes details of Grenfell RSL sub-Branch’s ANZAC Day program.