PILOT Officer Robert Carver came home yesterday.
It may have been 39 years late, but it was a historic and emotional homecoming that was of enormous importance to the serviceman's family and friends.
St Luke's acting parish priest Fr Geoff Poliness welcomed nearly 700 mourners to the full military service at St Luke's Church - the centrepiece of the parish that PO Carver had a connection with so many years ago.
“We are reminded of the significance of this occasion in terms of the nation - the last men home,” he said.
“But let us not forget that behind it all there is the life of a human being that we've come to honour.”
The eulogy was shared between three speakers.
Lieutenant Colonel Tony Ralph (retired) was a member of the cadets with “Freddy” Carver in Toowoomba and spoke on behalf of the family.
“Freddy, welcome home. It's taken a long time, but we're glad you're here,” he said.
The Commanding Officer of No. 2 Squadron, Wing Commander Luke Stoodley, spoke for the military and Group Captain Greg Weekes (retired) spoke for the No. 2 Squadron RAAF Association.
Also at the service were Defence Minister John Faulkner and Air Force Chief Air Marshal Mark Binskin who presented the Carver family with the RAAF Ensign which had adorned the coffin.
At the conclusion of the service in the sun outside the church, three volleys were fired by a special guard of airmen and women before the Last Post and Reveille were played.
Then, in a final, roaring tribute, a RAAF F-111 performed a flypast.
The Anglican Bishop to the Defence Forces, Bishop Len Eacott, led the committal outside and provided a sense of final resolution for mourners after so many years of waiting.
“As a family, as a nation, as a community, we now leave Robert Carver to rest in peace,” he said.
“Rest in peace Freddy.”
PO Carver's remains were later cremated in Toowoomba.
Read more ...'Routine sortie' turned into tragedy
An emotional day of tribute
Prime Minister pays tribute to Carver
St Luke's to host airman funeral
RAAF brings lost airmen home
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.