Bob Reck will return home to Cairns with many special memories from Invictus Games The Hague 2020.
There’s the pride in watching his son, Royal Australian Navy sailor Leading Seaman Chris Reck, throw himself into his athletics, cycling, indoor rowing and powerlifting events with power and determination.
He was also serenaded by Team Australia’s family and friends contingent at The Hague Central Train Station with a rousing rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’, and being gifted a Ukranian patch by a Ukranian national at the first reception attended by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex on Friday, April 15.
Bob has a lived understanding of the military and the notion of service. He's a former Royal Australian Navy serviceman himself, he's also the son of a World War II veteran and the father of two current serving Navy personnel, Chris and his brother, Daniel.
Until a few days ago many Team Ukraine members were on the front line defending their country from the Russian attack. The team is now in The Hague with other nations from all over the world competing in the fifth Invictus Games.
And this is why the gift of a patch in the Ukranian colours of blue and yellow has touched Bob so much.
“These people are fighting for their lives. They’ve come here against all odds. We didn’t think they were even going to make the games considering what’s happening in their country at the moment, but they did and that it is such a credit to them,” he said.
According to Bob, he didn’t ever expect to receive such a treasured keepsake on this trip to the Netherlands. Supporting Chris was his main priority, especially as his other son, Daniel, had to pull out of the trip because of illness.
“My being here shows Chris that I am behind him and that he has got support. It’s extremely important that he and the other competitors know they are not alone and their family and friends will be behind them all the way,” explained Bob.
“It’s been a long road to get here and Chris has done me and Australia proud, as have all the other competitors.
“Being given the patch was a total surprise. I saw a little boy at the reception while Prince Harry was on stage and thought he looked a little sad, a little lost,” recalled Bob.
“I’d brought a fair few souvenirs along with me so I thought I’d give him a little koala to play with. His dad saw me and thanked me and went to go, but then turned around, gave me this patch and gave me a hug. That really moved me.
“They’ve come here with nothing and have to return to god knows what. I’ll keep this patch forever,” he said.