90 second statement – Buddy Lea
Mr PITT (Hinkler) (13:31): It is with great sadness that I advise the House of the passing of the former Sergeant Thomas Henry Lea, better known as Buddy. Buddy lost his fight with lung cancer at the Hervey Bay hospital recently. He served 35 years in the Australian Army and saw service in Borneo, Malaya and Vietnam. Buddy was one of the legends of Long Tan. Known for rescuing one of his mates during the battle, he was shot three times on 18 August 1966. His former commander, Lieutenant Colonel Harry Smith (retired), described Buddy as ‘an excellent soldier’, saying:
… he was very brave and one of the most loyal people I’ve ever come across.
Buddy was a member of D Company 6RAR and it is only appropriate that they provided an honour guard at his service, which was attended by over a thousand mourners at Hervey Bay. Affectionately known, Buddy will be remembered fondly for his booming laugh and the way in which he lit up a room.
Of course, he is a great loss to his family. He is survived by his son, Barry, his daughter, Meisha, and his grandchildren. While my electorate of Hinkler has lost one of its most respected and well known war heroes, it is also a great loss to our community. Buddy was very well known in Hervey Bay for his work with local school children and the advice he provided about what it meant to him to be an Australian service person. Buddy adorned the cover of a recent white pages with Lieutenant Colonel Harry Smith, and it is a great photo that is left in his memory. Buddy Lea, we will not forget you. May you rest in peace.