Moree has lost another great, with last week's sad passing of Moree RSL sub-branch and North West National Servicemen's Association sub-branch president Reg Jamieson.
The Moree icon and local bus driver sadly passed away surrounded by family at Moree Hospital on Wednesday, September 4, aged 86.
"It's a sad day for Moree and a sad day for the RSL and National Servicemen's Association - he was president of both of those organisations for many years," Moree RSL sub-branch member Cr John Tramby said.
"In fact, we had our first meeting post his departure on Sunday and I think it was the first meeting he's ever missed. Prior to being president he was a very dedicated member and a founding member of the North West National Servicemen's Association sub-branch.
"He was very proud of his military service to his country and very caring to veterans who were having a rough time. He was very good at that."
Arguably one of Reg's proudest moments came just days before his death, when he received his Order of Australia Medal (OAM) during a special presentation at Moree Hospital.
Reg was recognised on the 2019 Queen's Birthday Honour List in June for service to the Moree community, however due to failing health he feared he wouldn't make the official Investiture Ceremony at Government House in Sydney, set for later this month.
"Reg actually came to me and said 'I'm not going to make it'," Cr Tramby said.
"He was concerned he wouldn't see it through."
So Cr Tramby made some initial calls and set in process the motion which would see the Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia and Chancellor of the Order of Australia David Hurley and his wife Linda make a special detour to Moree Hospital during their drought tour to present Reg with his much-deserved OAM.
"They flew up especially," Cr Tramby said.
"We made contact with them the week before when Reg thought he wasn't going to make it. But the earliest we could get the Governor-General here was on Saturday [August 31]. It was the first gap in their busy schedule. They were in Tamworth on the Friday night and came across from Tamworth to Moree."
Cr Tramby said it was a very personal ceremony, with the Governor-General and his wife in no hurry to leave.
"The Governor-General is a returned servicemen himself. He served in the Vietnam War," he said.
"And his wife is a beautiful lady. One of Reg's favourite songs was You Are My Sunshine and at one stage I saw her holding his hand and singing that song to him."
Cr Tramby said the award presentation meant a lot to Reg.
"He wasn't a well man; he was on oxygen but for the presentation he took the oxygen off," he said.
"He was aware of what was going on and even gave a little speech and thanked everybody for coming.
"Once that happened he let nature take its course. He was hanging on for that particular moment.
"He should have been nominated years ago ... he was a worthy recipient of the award indeed."
Following the presentation on Saturday, August 31, Reg's health began to slip on Monday, before he passed away on Wednesday, September 4.
Reg's military service began in January 1952 when he was among the second intake ever called for National Service.
This was the start of 20 years with the National Service which was the catalyst for Reg's two-decade-long involvement with the National Servicemen's Association.
"After I did CMF [Citzen Military Forces] training, I was meant to go to Korea but the war ended six weeks before our final training and I was deemed to be too old to go to Vietnam," Reg told The Moree Champion earlier this year.
"We trained to serve if needed."
In 1999 Reg joined the National Servicemen's Association and had been involved ever since. In 2008 he received life membership and has been president of the North West sub-branch since 2017.
It's a passion that Reg held to his final day.
He said one of his greatest achievements was being involved in hosting the Nashos reunion in Moree for the past three years, taking over from Bingara which held it for 23 years.
"That was one of my biggest achievements," he said.
Reg was also involved with the Moree RSL sub-branch since about 1999 and was president since 2014.
As president, he was key in helping to establish the Moree Regional Military Museum on the corner of Balo and Albert streets and was hoping to see that opened by Remembrance Day in November.
Reg was a volunteer firefighter in his hometown of Cunnamulla from 1952 until he moved to Moree in 1954. He continued as a firefighter in Moree until 1964.
"I came to Moree in 1954," he said.
"I was only going to stay for 21 years, like I did in Cunnamulla - I turned 21 three weeks after I moved here - but here I am."
Reg married his wife Eva, who sadly passed away nearly 11 years ago, in Moree and raised their family of nine children here.
"There was no TV when I got married in 1954," he laughed.
He now has 34 grandchildren, 35 great grandchildren and eight great great grandchildren.
In 1979, Reg became involved with Moree Junior Rugby League as a referee, which he continued right up until 2011, at the age of 78.
He was a member of the Citizens Radio Emergency Service Teams from 1978 until 1982, involved with Moree Motor Racing Club, serving five years as president, and was a past president of the Moree Vehicle Restorers Club.
Reg was also well-known for being a bus driver - "driving buses and people was his life's work," Cr Tramby said.
He began driving buses from Moree to Tamworth in 1981 and continued as a school and charter bus driver until early last year. He was also involved in community transport.
In June, Reg said he was honoured to be recognised for his service to the community and thanked those who contributed to him receiving an OAM.
"I just want to show my appreciation for the people involved in me receiving this award," he said.
"It was unexpected, but I feel that I'm very privileged."
Reg's funeral will be held at Moree and District Services Club at 11am on Friday, September 20, to be followed by private cremation.