The life of Aaron Stephen, cut tragically short in a car accident last month, has been remembered in a moving ceremony in Batehaven on Thursday.
Family, friends and colleagues of the 21-year-old army parachute rigger gathered at St Bernard’s Catholic Church on March 2 to pay tribute.
Aaron was killed when his car collided with a petrol tanker on the Hume Highway at Colo Vale, north of Mittagong, on the morning of February 18.
To mother Jacquie Stephen, Aaron was a fun-loving man who showed unwavering love towards his family and friends.
“In every situation, Aaron was happy to be the way he was,” Mrs Stephen said in her eulogy.
“He marched to the beat of his own drum and hated following rules.
In every situation, Aaron was happy to be the way he was.- Jacquie Stephen, mother
“His generosity was limitless.”
Mrs Stephen spoke of Aaron’s unbreakable bond with his younger siblings, Josh and Chloe.
“(Aaron) brought immense joy to us and his extended family. Aaron was always devoted and dedicated to his family,” she said.
Best mates John Langley and Darcy Young recalled his sense of humour and dedication to become a professional body builder.
The former St Peter’s Anglican College students reflected fondly on their friend’s gym antics and love of food, summing him up in three words: “Protein, creatine and nicotine.”
Army colleague Dwayne Giles cited Aaron’s resilience and devotion to training.
“When he was motivated, he was unstoppable,” Mr Giles said.
“He was no cookie-cutter; what you saw was what you got. He treated mates as family.”
Mr Giles paid tribute to Aaron’s larrikin nature and reflected on the humourous side of his commitment to becoming “as big and shredded as physically possible”.
“He would give you the shirt off his back, but he was really just giving you his shirt so he could have no shirt on,” Mr Giles joked.
Mrs Stephen’s tribute was also filled with light-heartedness, citing Aaron’s love of the gym and inspiration from his lifelong idol Arnold Schwarzenegger.
“Even at a young age, he was truly massive,” Mrs Stephen recalled of a pregnancy she initially thought might be twins.
In an apt conclusion to the mass, Father John Armstrong quoted Schwarzenegger: “I’ll be back” – on Aaron’s behalf.
Mrs Stephen thanked the community for their comfort during their time of grieving.
Batehaven streets came to a standstill for the funeral procession, with Aaron’s coffin conveyed to the church on a gun carriage.
Army officers formed a procession and marched down David Avenue as the coffin was taken to the grave site. Aaron was laid to rest with full military honours at Broulee Memorial Gardens.
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