Leon Francis KELLY (Ned), passed away on 12 December 2019, aged 64 years

Leon Francis KELLY (Ned), passed away on 12 December 2019, aged 64 years

Ned was born on 11 March 1955, joining the Australian Army on 12 July 1972, around four months after he turned 17 years of age.

After the mandatory stint (around 13 weeks) at 1 Recruit Training Battalion (Kapooka), he was posted to the RAEME Training Centre at Bandiana on 19 September 1972. From there, Leon was posted to the School of Signals on 3 May 1973. No doubt it was here that Leon realised that the Tankies offered greater career opportunities and he was posted to 1st Armoured Regiment on 30 July 1974. During his time at the Regiment he worked his way through the M113s as well as progressing through all tank crewman positions including his promotion to Sergeant.

Ned spent part of 1984 and the early part of 1985 at Armoured Centre before being posted back to the Regiment on 27 Feb 1985. Two years later (1987) he was back at Armoured Centre for a further two years before a posting at the Army Apprentices School for most of 1989, 1990 and 1991.

On 15 January 1992 Ned was posted back to the Armoured Centre where he remained until discharged with the rank of Warrant Office Class Two from the Australian Regular Army (ARA) after 21 years-service.

Ned’s knowledge of the Pucka range, which he knew like the back of his hand) led to his second career at Puckapunyal Range Control.

After discharge from the ARA, Ned immediately joined the General Reserve and was posted to C Squadron 1st Armoured Regiment, where he remained for approximately nine (9) years. Ned served his country in uniform for almost 30 years and this was followed by many years of assistance to others in uniform to train in the service of their country.

Ned spent a number of months on overseas deployments including a month in 1976 in the United States of America and a month in the Federal Republic of Germany attached to the British Army (5th Royal Inniskilling Dragoon Guards) during May/June 1980.

Leon was a friend and mentor to many soldiers posted to the 1st Armoured Regiment when it was located at Puckapunyal. Leon was the ‘best man’ for at least three of his mates including Jim Grubb, Larry Maxwell and David Key - which demonstrates his character and ability to establish and maintain relationships with subordinates, peers and superiors.

Comments published in various locations provide an insight into his character:

We were proud and honoured to have served with Leon.

He always had a smile on his face and was happy for what he had achieved, what he is was doing in the moment and what he planned to do next.

A true gentleman, a champion bloke, a great person, a great mate and last but not least, a great soldier. He was always supportive and had a great sense of humour.

Leon may have gone, and gone far too early, but he will not be forgotten.

May he rest in peace in the green fields beyond.

Prepared by Russ James from information provided by Defence Records, close mates and various comments made on a number of face book pages