Army mates pay tribute to killed pedestrian
FAMILY and friends of 83-year-old Alfred Handley, who passed away on Friday evening after a pedestrian traffic accident on Alexandra Pde, have paid tribute to a "wonderful" man.
After retiring from the Army as a Warrant Officer Class 1, the well-respected Currimundi man devoted his life to helping returned servicemen.
Following his return to Australia from active service, Mr Handley dedicated himself to veterans' affairs, with stints as president of both the Queensland and Australian Royal Australian Regiment Associations, as well as being instrumental in the creation of the National Memorial Walk at Enoggera's Gallipoli barracks.
His devoted wife of 55 years, Barbara, was with Mr Handley when he died on Friday, and he is survived by his children, sons Geoffrey and Barry Handley, daughter Peta Stokes, and their families.
Mr Handley served Australia in five overseas campaigns throughout his military career, and his family yesterday described him as a great soldier, family man and a friend to many.
Originally from Thangool, the former Maleny resident made plenty of friends during his 83 years.
Friend and fellow Vietnam Veteran Ross Bimrose paid tribute to a man who was active in his wider community.
"He was involved with the bowls club at Maleny, the Maleny Walking Club, the Maleny Art Show," Mr Bimrose recalled.
"His interest and commitment to the community far outstripped just his work for the veterans.
"He was really selfless and very supportive, and he was held in total respects from people for his efforts in Vietnam."
Mr Handley was known for the compassion he showed for those who served under him, earning the nickname "Mother" from his military mates who served with him in Vietnam, particularly the younger soldiers.
Mr Bimrose recalled how the affectionate nickname of Mother was used with total respect of Mr Handley, who another veteran described as an "absolute legend of the Army".
"I've got a hell of a lot of respect for Alf, he just protected the young soldiers in Vietnam, did all he could to look after them, and he was certainly not a soft man," Mr Bimrose said.
Another former soldier, in an email passed on by Mr Handley's family, recalled the impacts Mr Handley's care of young men serving in Vietnam had taken on himself.
"Your nickname of 'Mother' must be worn with pride; a real man, who exuded all the meanings of the word … you fussed, looked over and cared for us all, as would a mother hen," the veteran said.
"Thank you for keeping so many of us alive, safe and returning us ... in as good a condition as possible."
Mr Handley's funeral details will be finalised early this week.