Happy Australia Day all!

I know this is not a sceptical issue but I am so proud of my Dad I just had to tell everyone my/his news.

My Da (as he is affectionately known to me) was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia today for services to veterans through the Royal Australian Regiment Association, and to youth, particularly through Operation Flinders.

Me, Ma, Moose (OAM).

Me, Ma, Moose (OAM).

Colonel Graham John Dunlop, (known as “Moose” to almost everyone) served as an Officer in the Australian Army for 25 years. He trained at Duntroon (now known as ADFA), Canberra following high school in Maryborough, rural Queensland.

He did a tour of duty in Vietnam for 13 months in 1969 as part of 3RAR where he was a platoon leader.

Despite retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel after 25 years of service, he continued to work for the rights of Veterans and as a volunteer for the army cadets. In fact, he was made an honorary Colonel as part of his work for the cadets, where he served as a mentor for over ten years. This is particularly unusual since this position is generally for only 12 months, but owing to popular demand, Da was asked to keep coming back!

His work for Operation Flinders is included in today’s OAM and involved him mentoring troubled youth (often from broken homes or off the streets) and teaching them survival skills, team work and instilling them with self esteem.

Through his tireless work with campaigning for Veterans Affairs he has lobbied government to improve the entitlements for veterans. He continues this today, with his newly appointed role on the Veteran’s Affairs advisory committee. Throughout this campaign he has been stubborn, dogmatic and brave.

Despite him requesting they inscribe the medal with "Moose" it was deemed the name had to match hs birth certificate.

Despite him requesting they inscribe the medal with "Moose" it was deemed the name had to match his birth certificate. UN-AUSTRALIAN.

Such was the case when he agreed to appear on Hack, the Triple J current affairs show hosted by Steve Cannane, to share his experiences in the Vietnam war, as part of a series on how war has intergenerational effects. I also contributed to this interview, which eventually resulted in Steve winning a Walkely Award for excellence in Journalism – it was a harrowing experience for us both, but not more than for my Da. He opened up about the effects war had, and continues to have on him, all the while his daughter was berating him in the studio for putting her under too much pressure (don’t I feel like a twit now).

The response to this interview from fellow veterans and families was overwhelming and the effects were felt far and wide. My Da helped so many ex-soldiers that day, by demonstrating it is not a failing to admit to your problems, and talking to your family can go a long way to helping with the healing process. I can certainly attest to this.

The process leading up to him being awarded an OAM today, began with a phone call to my Ma from one of his mates suggesting the nomination be made. It’s been around 12 months since the wheels began to turn on this, and all the while, we as a family had to keep quiet. Mum, I am so proud of you for dealing with the secret negotiations when we all wanted to burst! I remember Mum showing me the official letter back in November 2008 when I was home for the sceptics national convention and I couldn’t hold back the tears.

Colonel Moose OAM; "Tie your own bloody knots, I'm fishing".

Colonel Moose OAM; "Tie your own bloody knots, I'm fishing".

You would feel the same if you visited the pub after an ANZAC day march and saw how much his mates respect him. The moment they find out you are the daughter of Moose Dunlop, they 1) insist on buying you a drink 2) pour their guts out about how much of a good mate he is and a bloody good soldier.

Like any father and daughter we have our disagreements. However, there is nothing better than sitting in the tinnie, a couple of lines in the water, gazing onto a deserted beach somewhere on the west coast of South Australia and pulling in the King George whiting. But, don’t expect him to tie your rig for you,
“I gave you a bloody how-to-tie-knots-book, do it yourself, I’m fishing!”

Da, I am so incredibly proud of you. Well done you bastard.

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