A tribute to...

Patrick (Pat) Lawford

Published: 9/11/2021

"He came from humble beginnings, but left us as a giant of a man."

- By Richard John Lawford

Patrick' (Pat) Lawford', was born on the 3rd October 1928 in the small town of Euchareena in western NSW.

The eldest of ten, he grew up on the land within the "Wellington County". His earliest childhood memories were playing in the gutter outside his home, which was nestled at the bottom of the hill at Kerr's Creek.

In his school years, Pat was known as "Loopy". In his later years he became known as "Fagan". During the second World War years, he would say that the years were quite frightening, mysterious and quite sad with the stories coming back home.

As a child, Pat would tell stories of riding his horse to school in rain, hail or shine - sometimes even snow. He started his schooling at Kerr's Creek Public School, followed by Orange Rural School and then went onto Orange High School.

He grew up tough and fought tough for most of his life. 'As boys do', Pat said he got into many fights at school - even going as far as saying he almost fought one of the teachers.

Although an academic and topping the class in all of his subjects, at age 15, Pat decided to leave school and apply for an apprenticeship with the NSW Railways. After a short period there he realised he wasn't enjoying his time, so enlisted in the Royal Australian Navy on 10th Oct, 1946, with the wish of travel and excitement.

Pat went onto complete 29 Years, discharging in October 1975, with the rank of Warrant Officer Electronic Technical Communication Officer.

Pat had a long and distinguished career. From 1946, Pat spent time on HMAS Shropshire, and had many postings to HMAS Albatross and  HMAS Sydney (R17). Aboard HMAS Sydney, he was part of the ship's company for Operation Hurricane at Monte Bello in 1952.

He had many postings to HMAS Melbourne (R21) in which he did the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth trip to the UK in June of 1953.

Pat was also on HMAS Melbourne the night of 10th February 1964,  when the Australian destroyer HMAS Voyager sank after colliding with the Melbourne, killing 82.

In 1965, Pat was also part of the commissioning crew of HMAS Hobart (D39), returning home to Sydney in September 1966. He remained with HMAS Hobart until his first deployment to Vietnam in 1967.

In 1974, Pat was part of "Operation Navy Help", which was the Cyclone Tracy aftermath clean-up. Here he worked closely with Capt. E.E. Johnson in restoring communications to the devastated region.

During his career Pat had numerous positions at HMAS Nirimba as an instructor, where he was finally discharged in 1975.       

Pat was awarded numerous Medals and Commendations and include:

  • Australia Service Medal
  • Vietnam Medal
  • Australian Naval Board Commendation
  • Vietnamese Campaign Medal
  • United States Naval Unit Commendation
  • USS Fechteler (DD-870) Commanding Officers Commendation and Appreciation Letter
  • Return from Active Service Medal
  • Long Service and Good Conduct Medal

Pat had many friends throughout his Naval career and was admired and respected by men of all levels, from the lower deck to Admirals of the Fleet. His commitment and application to duty within the Royal Australian Navy required his advanced technical knowledge and execution and his outstanding performances carrying out these tasks won him praise and respect from many Navies, both here and overseas.     

Whether it was good luck or just by chance, it appeared that every posting Pat had, saw him running the ship's SP book as he had a knack and was trustworthy, and according to some of his shipmates, was good for a loan.

During the late 1940's, Pat met his partner Dawn Martin whilst playing tennis in Orange NSW. They married in August, 1950 and not long after moved to Sydney to commence a new life together. Their union lasted 60 years, producing 3 children, 5 grandchildren, and 11 great grandchildren.

Pat's love for the bush never diminished, every chance he and Dawn had they would head west to catch up with family in the Orange area.

Pat retired from the Royal Australian Navy in 1975. Thinking he was too young to completely retire, and unable to keep still, Pat applied for a position that suited his many qualifications at National Panasonic as Production Manager in their production site in Penrith. This union lasted 10 years, where he finally retired in the mid 1980"s.

Pat was spoken of very highly and respected by all that came his way. He was a member of Penrith Panthers for over 30 years, for 20 of those years Pat held various positions in assisting the Football Club team prepare for matches on a weekly basis, fittingly the Club bestowed honorary life membership to Pat for his long-time service. Pat sadly passed away on the 17th January 2012. 

Pat enjoyed communicating and was able to strike up a conversation with anyone on any subject, and was able to diversify his thoughts from one subject to another without missing a beat.

Pat's loves in life were his family, Penrith Panthers football side and an afternoon listening to the Horse racing with his mates - always with his little red transistor radio up to his ear, in that order. He would do everything and anything for any member of his family, nothing would please him more than having all his family around him, especially Dawn. Pat would often say that his family was his finest ever achievement in his life.

Pat accepted everyone as one, irrespective of gender, race or religious belief. He was hard but fair, hardworking, loyal and fun to be with.

He is sadly missed by all.

Calm Seas, Gentle Breezes

Lest we forget.

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