27 April 2010
I am Steve Gregory and I’m going to talk about Dan on behalf of our family – my wife and Dan’s mother Wendy and his brother Stuart. I am also speaking for Dan’s wife Sarah and her family, parents Keith and Linda and brothers Scott and Cameron. I’ll then answer questions if I can.
I want to start by acknowledging that ours are not the only families grieving at this time. Our love and thoughts are with the families and friends of Hayden and Ben who are also coping with terrible losses, and of course we also send our very best wishes to Steve and his family – we hope you make a full and speedy recovery Steve.
I also want to give special thanks to Air New Zealand, who have supported us fantastically, they are a great and caring airline. And a special thanks to Dan’s second family, the Air Force and particularly the team here at Ohakea. It is very evident that they too have lost members of their family and they are hurting as we are. They have given us fantastic support which we truly appreciate.
There are too many other people we would like to acknowledge to name individually, but we are very conscious of the messages of support from family and friends and thank you all from the bottom of our hearts.
I realise that at a time like this, Dan has become the property of all of New Zealand and that is fitting and right. We could not be prouder to share him with this great nation whom he served with such distinction and honour. But at the very simplest level, Dan was: Our son, Stuart’s big brother, Sarah’s husband, and everyone else’s friend.
Dan was a North Shore boy. He was: Born at North Shore Hospital, went to Glammorgan Primary, Northcross Intermediate and Long Bay College. He played football and cricket for ECB and was an outstanding sportsman. He has a huge number of friends from his school and sports.
He then joined the armed forces and his military record is public knowledge and a source of great pride to us all. He made a huge number of friends in the Army and, more recently, the Air Force. He was a very popular person around the Base and known as someone who got things done. He was serving as the social co-ordinator at the time of his death.
I don’t want to try to cover every aspect of Dan’s life because he had so many things on the go that we would be here until this time tomorrow and I’d probably still have left things out!
But I’d like to finish by just sharing my abiding memories of him: I loved the way he loved Sarah – it was beautiful to see how well they got along and they had such great plans for the future together.
He fitted right in with Sarah’s family and it is great for Wendy and I to know how much they cared for him in return.
He had a very special relationship with his mother and brother Stuart. There was a huge amount of mutual respect and pride and I loved the way he was an infinitely patient and loving big brother to Stu.
I loved his positive and optimistic approach to life and his can-do attitude. He blew me away with the things he accomplished – he could turn his hand to anything.
I totally admired his commitment. To get into the Air Force from serving in the Army he had to jump through a lot of hoops, including having to re-sit 6th form Physics which he did while on active service in Afghanistan - amazing!
And for me, personally, to hear from Sarah and others how much he loved and admired me is so touching because that’s exactly the way I felt about him. We all have such fond memories of him.
Dan died doing the thing he loved to do best on the day of days. He never missed ANZAC Day and had a deep sense of honour in recognising those who have given their lives for their country.
My Father Keith Gregory served in the RNZAF in Bomber Command in WW2 and my Uncle Harvey Gregory served in Coastal Command in that same conflict.
They are no longer with us, but I know Dan was proud to be carrying on in the family tradition and he kept my Father’s flight log book with him as an inspiration. I’m sure they are all now together again and sharing stories with one-another.
ANZAC Day for our family will always have special significance – it will be a time to remember our fallen heroes but also a time to celebrate our son’s bright but all too short life.
No one who ever met you will ever forget you Dan, you will be in our thoughts forevermore.
For more information please contact Squadron Leader Kavae Tamariki on 021 420 899.