Glowing tributes for a brave soldier
By JULIA ILES
THE sound of feet was all that could be heard as the 100strong crowd filed from the Grafton Salvation Army Hall after army paratrooper Nathan Gilbert's funeral.
No-one could have predicted that the next reunion of the 20-year-old's family and friends would be such a solemn occasion.
Grief was still raw on the faces of his fellow soldiers who had travelled from the Holsworthy Army Base near Wollongong to attend.
Nathan died tragically just over a week ago when the motorcycle he was riding collided with a station wagon.
His parents Trish and Geoff Gilbert presented one of three eulogies.
They described him as fearless, confident as well as 'a boy who would do anything for his mother'.
His army mate Private Shannon Sedgwick said Nathan was never in a bad mood and would be sorely missed.
He described a training scenario that had turned into a wet miserable occasion.
"Nathan's red hair glowed in the dark and he still had a big white smile on his face," Shannon said.
Nathan's commanding officer Lt. Colonel Mick Mumford described him as a brave soldier with a lot of potential.
The funeral cortege travelled in a slow procession down Armidale Road to the cemetery.
Soldiers stood in two lines holding rifles at their side as friends and family walked in between them to the gravesite.
They then carried the coffin draped in the Australian flag to its resting place while army chaplain Tim Booker said a prayer before wreaths of flowers were placed on top.
Guns were fired three times as a tribute to Nathan.