Long-time veterans' advocate and Wollongong RSL sub-branch president Peter Poulton AM is being remembered as "one of a kind" and a man who dedicated himself to helping those who had served in the armed forces.
Mr Poulton died on Wednesday after a battle with cancer, aged 73.
His daughter Katrina Smith remembered him as a man who was unorthodox - "it was always Peter's Way'."
"He was brash, he was cheeky, he was funny. He had a heart of gold. Everyone's got funny stories to tell about him; he was an absolute character."
Born in Sydney and later moving to a farm near Crookwell, he enlisted in the army as a volunteer but left to become a policeman. He was soon called back after his number "came out of a barrel" in 1968.
In the Vietnam war he served as a driver, a role in which he came across significant carnage, most notably at Binh Ba, as he recounted to the Mercury in 2019, while revealing he would step aside as president of the Wollongong sub-branch. This was the same month he received the RSL's highest honour, the Meritorious Service Medal, after 33 years' service.
"He's be the sort of person to say 'it's not about me', he was very humble," Ms Smith said. "But I know he would have been very, very proud not only of his achievements, but also that people thought so much of him."
After returning from Vietnam he returned to the police, but it was his discovery of a young former serviceman's body - in full uniform - in a farm shed, that set him on the path to help others.
"He was always such a great mentor - I've had so many phone calls from people from either the army or the reserves, who said his life and his support was very important to them," Ms Smith said.
"I think it was just as important to him to help those people when he knew exactly the sort of situations they'd find themselves in."
One of his greatest achievements was working to establish a belated Welcome Home parade for Vietnam veterans in 1987.
"I spoke to one of his mates, Normie Rowe, about that day, and they were worried," Ms Smith said. "He said 'what if nobody shows up?'. And dad said to him 'as long as we got one home, it doesn't matter'. But they came over the hill on George St (Sydney) and there were people everywhere. They went down to the Domain for the concert afterwards, Normie said there were 30,000 people there, it was just overwhelming."
Peter Poulton is survived by his wife Bev, children Tony, Andrew, Katrina and Heidi, and seven grandchildren.
His funeral will be on on July 6 at 2pm at Hanson & Cole, Kembla Grange.
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