Rob Eade is on a personal pilgrimage around Australia to remember fallen veterans from the Vietnam War to the present day.
Accompanied by his love, Ginge the red cattle dog, he called in to Taree on Monday, June 19 to lay four flags at the Memorial Clock in Fotheringham Park.
The flags represent four Vietnam veterans born in Taree who “payed the supreme sacrifice”, in the words of Rob. The soldiers, Peter John Bramble, Kerry Patrick Rinkin, Arthur John Gibson and Robert Bruce Milligan all lost their lives in Vietnam.
Rob and Ginge, who had been on the road one year and one day when they stopped at Taree, travel on a trike with a purpose built trailer attached.
Rob set out from Baldivis in WA on June 18, 2016, inspired by a video he saw of Mike Ehredt in the USA, who ran from one side of the country to the other, and the top to the bottom for his Project American Run, to honour every American soldier who died in Afghanistan.
In January 2016 Rob started researching all of the names and birth towns of fallen veterans from Vietnam, East Timor, Iraq, Bougainville, the West Sahara, Iran, Afghanistan and Sumatra.
To date Rob has traversed the south-east quarter of Western Australia up to Kalgoorlie, across the Nullabor, all of South Australia including Kangaroo Island, all of Victoria, all of Tasmania including Flinders Island, and now is making his way north in NSW.
The only break Rob has had was to take a month off to spend as much time as he could with brother, Spider, who was diagnosed last Christmas with bone cancer.
Rob’s journey is entirely self funded, although he is helped along the way by RSL sub-branches and generous strangers.
“The first one to knock my socks off was an elderly lady at Kalgoorlie. She must have been 85 if she was a day,” Rob says.
“She gave me $5.”
Rob also gratefully remembers a complete stranger who paid a $75 fuel bill at a petrol station.
“Just came up and paid for it,” he says.
Rob himself is a Vietnam veteran, having served 21 years in the armed forces as a “cuisine technician,” aka cook.
“I loved feeding the boys. I didn’t kill anybody, but I gave ‘em the shits sometimes!” Rob says.
Rob was later diagnosed with PTSD as a result from his service in Vietnam, so this odyssey is a very personal journey. He credits Ginge with keeping him sane.
“Ginge is my prozac,” he says.
Rob is no stranger to living on the road. He left Warners Bay in 2008 (he remembers the exact date) and has been travelling ever since. He started in a small bus, and graduated to a nine-tonne truck and eventually a 36 foot bus he converted to a motorhome.
I loved feeding the boys. I didn’t kill anybody, but I gave ‘em the shits sometimes!
Along the way he picked up Ginge as a puppy, who is now seven years old.
“She’s never known a permanent home,” he says.
Once he’s finished what he’s set out to do (“Come hell or high water, I’m going to finish it,” Rob says) he intends stopping at Townsville, where he will finally make himself a permanent home.
“I don’t want anything flash,” he says.
But for now, he’s still got some miles to clock and flags to lay.
“You don’t stop when you’re tired,” Rob says, “you stop when you’re finished.”
You can keep track of Rod, Ginge, and their journey by following Rob’s ‘Remembrance Ride Oz’ Facebook page.