Joshua bears his dad's spirit proudly

By: Tony Koch

WHEN the youngest runner in the Olympic torch relay takes the flame, he will help carry forward the memory of his father who died in the 1996 Black Hawk tragedy.
Joshua Tombs, 10, will represent his dad Brett -- an SAS soldier killed in the helicopter collision in Townsville.
Corporal Brett Tombs was one of 18 Special Air Service soldiers and 5th Aviation Regiment soldiers and airmen killed at Fire Support Base Barbara on June 12 in the training exercise simulating rescue of hostages held at the Olympic Games.
``I am running for Daddy, and I hope I can wear his SAS beret that day,'' Joshua, who runs on June 25, said. ``Daddy was training in preparation for the Olympic Games in case hostages were taken in our country. He died to make it a safe place for families.''
Joshua will be joined in the torch relay by Major David Burke, the surviving pilot of the Black Hawk collision at FSB Barbara, who will represent the officers killed in the training exercise.
Joshua's mother Gaye said yesterday the whole family, including grandparents from Port Macquarie, would drive to Townsville to watch the event.
``We feel that this will finally close the chapter of our lives,'' Gaye said.
``Brett and I were high-school sweethearts and we were together for 14 years when he died at age 31. The children, Joshua and Giverny knew their father as a soldier who would leave at any time he was called out in the night.
``Josh had a good relationship with Brett. Their dad was always going away and one time he just never came back.''
On September 24 last year, Gaye remarried -- to another SAS soldier, Stewart Grant, who was a close friend of Brett.
``Stewart was discharged in December and we are now setting up an earth-moving business at Mt Nebo,'' Gaye said.
``I didn't choose to be a single mum or to be widowed -- I didn't make the choice.
``Lt-Colonel Wheatley got in contact with all the families and widows and asked if we wanted to participate, and then wrote to me and the position was offered to Josh.
``I could have said no and avoided any more publicity, but I feel that this is an opportunity to give recognition to those guys who gave their lives and were injured.
``Josh running would have made his father proud.''