In June 2010, Renee Wilson’s fiancée Gary was critically wounded in a Black Hawk accident that killed three Commandos and wounded six others in what was to date the largest single loss of life in Australia’s war in Afghanistan.
He spent three months in a coma and was given a four per cent chance of survival, but eventually made as full of a recovery as possible.
Renee told the story to a Commando Welfare Trust dinner in Sydney attended by ADM.
“The Afghanistan War arrived at my home, with all of its chaos, nightmares and fears on 21 June 2010,” Renee said. “A sinking feeling earlier that evening told me something bad had happened and Gary was involved.
“As I feared becoming a statistic, becoming the widow the nation feels sorry for, my private pain now very public - I knew one thing for sure – I would never walk alone. I knew no matter what, I would be able to count on the Commando family, Gary had taught me this. He made sure I knew this before that day in February. Just in case I would ever face a day like this one.
“I vowed to do everything I could, everything within my power to bring him back because without him, I didn’t think I could survive. It felt like my heart would actually break if I had to let him go and I couldn’t let that happen and thankfully it didn’t.
“Despite the odds, despite the prognosis, Gary has made as full a recovery as possible and joins us here tonight.
“When I reflect now on what happened 10 years ago, the first thing that comes to me is how many people in this room and helped me stand while my best friend was lying in front of me, unconscious and with an uncertain future. For this I am grateful beyond words.
“I am also grateful, that the ‘commando for life’ mantra rings true. Particularly where the Trust is concerned,” Renee said.
“We were there a little over 10 years ago when the Trust was launched. An initiative that promised a future for the children whose fathers didn’t come home, for those that had been severely injured and for the spouses whose lives were turned upside down. I stood proud that night, particularly so given the devastation left behind by the Afghanistan War. There was some hope.”
The Commando Welfare Trust provides hardship support to veterans of all Australian special forces units and their families outside the scope of existing Defence and non-Defence schemes such as DVA or Legacy. More information is available at commandotrust.com.