PRIVATE Nathan Bewes would send the same text message to his family and friends each time he was deployed to a war zone.
“Remember it’s goodbye for now, not forever.”
It is a sentiment his family are holding onto as they deal with his loss this week at their home in Murwillumbah.
Parents Gary and Kay, his sister Stephanie, partner Alice Walsh and cousins Samuel and David Preston have been remembering a 23-year-old they describe as a patriotic, loveable larrikin.
Stephanie said he was the best brother anyone could ever have and Alice described him as the most amazing person she had met.
“I’ll never stop loving my Bewesy,” Ms Walsh said.
“Nathan will be forever remembered by his family and friends and we know he will always watch over us.”
He was 100 per cent his father’s son and they will all miss him terribly.
“It is going to take a long time to come to terms with and is something that we won’t get over and will never forget, it is a part of you that is gone,” Mrs Bewes said on Sunday.
But tempering their grief is the knowledge that Nathan was born to join the army.
Kay’s father Cliff Gill walked the Kokoda Track in World War II and Gary’s father, Jack Bewes, flew Lancaster Bombers over Britain in the same war.
The Mount Saint Patrick College student joined Murwillumbah’s 225 Army Cadet Unit at the age of 13 and rose to the rank of Company Commander.
When Samuel joined 5/7 RAR and served in East Timor the family knew there was no stopping Nathan.
Gary said his son was a born leader and loved the comradeship of the armed forces. He thrived on the lifestyle, the adventure and the mateship.
“He was very proud of the job he did and we were very proud of the job he did as well,” Mrs Bewes said.
Nathan joined the army at 18 and was part of 6RAR, based out of Enoggera at Brisbane. He was on his third tour of duty this year, after first serving in East Timor in 2006, then in Afghanistan in 2008 and again this year. He had been awarded six service medals.
“For him, that was what he was joining the army for, to serve Australia, change the world and to help other people,” Mrs Bewes said.
“He was very proud of the service part of the job he took. What he wanted was to be there to help.”
“It was always in the back of your mind (what could happen), but he was going off to do what he wanted to do.”
Stephanie said: “At least we can be in peace knowing Pa and Pop will be there to take Nathan’s hand and help him be at peace”.
Nathan was passionate about the beach and enjoyed bodysurfing and scuba diving. He was born at Kogarah and like his dad, loved the Saint George rugby league team. He started the NRL tipping competition among the troops at Afghanistan, and is still leading it now.
Despite his love of the ocean, his family said returning to Afghanistan was always Nathan’s priority.
Samuel said Nathan knew his mates were still overseas fighting and he needed to be over there with them.
“The bond is almost as close, if not closer than brothers,” Mr Preston said. “He was a soldier through and through.”
David is also joining the infantry and had always planned to join Nathan overseas and he is now more determined than ever to get over there.
Friends have been a constant presence at the Bewes home.
“The support of family and friends has just been overwhelming,” Mr Bewes said.
People would always stop Mr Bewes in town to ask about Nathan.
“It was always nice to know people were thinking of him.”
They will remember Nathan as a hero.
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