An Australian Army soldier who died in a training crash in Queensland’s north has been identified as a father who has served in the ADF for 22 years of his life.
Warrant Officer Second Class Ryan Leslie, 40, died with 29-year-old Craftsman Brendon Payne, who had previously been identified, in the accident near Charters Towers.
Tributes have flowed for the two soldiers killed when their truck crashed on remote Dotswood Road near a military training base not far from Charters Towers, southwest of Townsville, on Monday.
Defence rescue and medical teams attended, but the two were declared dead at the scene.
They both served in the Brisbane-based 7th Brigade.
Leslie, who had been deployed to East Timor and the Solomon Islands, has been remembered by his fellow soldiers as “one of the most loved members of the Army, a true leader and consummate professional who cared deeply for the soldiers”.
“Ryan’s endless energy, smile and wonderful sense of humour made him the heart of the workshop. His positive influence will be irreplaceable,” a statement released by the Department of Defence quoted them as saying.
The department said Leslie was a member of the Royal Australian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers and had posted to 2/14 Light Horse Regiment at Enoggera Barracks in Brisbane in January.
“He was 40 years old and leaves behind his loving wife Tara and daughter Montana, loving parents Robyn and Kerry, his best friend and loving brother Dean and extended family who loved him dearly,” the departmental statement read.
“Ryan was a proud member of the Australian Army and leaves behind many friends and colleagues who will honour his memory with love and respect.”
The department also revealed Payne joined the army about 17 months ago.
He has been remembered as “the strongest bloke we’ve ever worked with, a man who would never fault and never crack”.
“His cheeky smirk would come out all the time, and when it came out you had to smile back. He gave all to his work, and would do anything to help his mates. He was a man who gave so much, and we will miss him forever,” colleagues said.
Payne has left behind a young wife.
Chief of Army Lieutenant General Rick Burr has offered condolences and support to the soldiers’ families.
“Our highest priority is caring for the families, friends and loved ones of our soldiers and we ask that you respect their privacy during this difficult time,” he said on Tuesday.