A Second World War pilot who paid the ultimate sacrifice while saving the town of March has been awarded a medal 73 years after his death.
Jim Hocking, a 21-year-old Pilot Officer with the Australian Air Force, refused to leave his stricken bomber after realising it was on a collision course with the town.
He valiantly managed to guide it away from March but died after it crashed into a nearby field on July 28, 1944.
Plt Off Hocking’s heroism only came to light in the 1980s due to security reasons.
Seven decades on, he has been awarded with the Australian Star of Courage, the country’s second highest medal, during a special ceremony on May 5.
His younger brother Alan was presented with the award.
Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson formally acknowledged Plt Off Hocking’s heroism at a special ceremony at Heroes’ Walk at Quota Park in Nambour, which was attended by Fenland District Council cabinet member Mike Cornwell.
The councillor was presented with a replica of the medal by Nambour Historical Association to take back to the Jim Hocking Memorial in March Museum.
During the ceremony Cllr Jamieson paid tribute to Plt Off Hocking: “It is my hope that this acknowledgement serves to bring more attention at home to his life and sacrifice, as our community honours its heroes.
“His memory is treasured and nurtured – and is in excellent hands in the town of March where Jim’s family have been embraced as part of their community.
“The opportunity to acknowledge our past and present service men and women should never be passed up.
“Through their efforts, we are able to continue to enjoy our fantastic way of life and much cherished freedoms.”
Cllr Cornwell said what Plt Off Hocking did on that July morning “is well understood by the people of March”.
He said: “We are proud custodians of an important part of the Sunshine Coast’s Second World War history.
“We are proud to remember his sacrifice and we have taken steps to make sure he is never forgotten.
“There is no doubt had he not made the decision he did, the town would have been flattened.”