A ship repairman, a banana farmer, engine restorer extraordinaire and committed returned serviceman, as well as good friend to many – Buckrabendinni’s Jim Cameron is our newest OAM.
Surprised, overwhelmed and somewhat puzzled at the honour, Jim has barely wrapped his head around the news that has come in letters with gold insignia, marked ‘Honour Confidential’.
“I’ve worked with a lot of good, talented people … this honour is as much theirs as mine,” Jim said.
“There are so many who have done so much and yet they never get a mention – I do wonder if I have really earned this.”
His wife Chris says that throughout their 45 years of married life, Jim has always been out there doing things for others, helping others … from weekly raffles at the Bowraville Ex Services Club raising funds for the restoration of vehicles at the Frank Partridge VC Military Museum to being one of the driving forces behind the restoration of the Bowraville cenotaph in 2014.
“Jim does a lot of work for a lot of organisations,” Chris said.
Jim’s citation says he is honoured ‘for service to veterans and their families’ – he’s the president of the Bowraville RSL Sub-Branch, and has been since 2009, he’s a life member of the Ex-Services Club, public officer of the Military Museum, not to mention a solid stint as president of the Mid North Coast Machinery Restoration Club (home of the Rusty Iron Rally) and president of the Bowraville Vietnam Veterans Association.
“I was called up in 1968 and was in Vietnam for nine and a half months. Because we were so shunned, I had little to do with the RSL until the Welcome Home Parade in 1987,” Jim said.
“We had moved to Bowraville by then and I got involved with the sub-branch, initially to give the old blokes a hand – but now I’m one of them!
“The high point of being part of all those organisations is the people I have met … and with veterans, there is a bond there that you don’t get anywhere else.”
Jim will celebrate today (Monday) with family and then wait to hear “in due course” when the official presentation in Sydney will take place.