TRIBUTES are flowing for a young Port Douglas man after he died suddenly "living his dream" while serving for the Australian navy.

The tragic death of Joel Bowen, 20, has rocked the small seaside town to its core following an outpouring of emotion at a funeral service held at Rex Smeal Park on Wednesday.

Bowen was being remembered as a "funny, inspirational, humble, compassionate, motivational, loyal, caring" and a "true mate" as his parents, Dawn and Wade, bravely did what no parent should have to and buried their son.

Port Douglas man Joel Bowen, 20, is being remembered as a gentle, kind hearted soul. He had been serving for the Royal Australian Navy. Picture: Facebook.
Port Douglas man Joel Bowen, 20, is being remembered as a gentle, kind hearted soul. He had been serving for the Royal Australian Navy. Picture: Facebook.


He had been based at the HMAS Cerberus in Victoria, the primary training establishment for navy personnel, when his life was cut short.

His commanding officer, Captain Ainsley Morthorpe, was joined by other defence force personal in Port Douglas to listen to the anguish felt from his parents, family and friends at his passing.

Joel was a keen fisherman who had a positive impact on everyone he met. Picture: Facebook.
Joel was a keen fisherman who had a positive impact on everyone he met. Picture: Facebook.

"Joel was the sort of sailor that was a pleasure to command," Captain Morthorpe said.

"He was positive in his outlook, pleasant company, loyal, a good mate to many, and was developing into a good leader."

Mr Bowen was a much loved member of the Douglas Shire community and was involved with many sporting clubs including the Douglas Heat, Mossman Sharks, Port Douglas Crocs and the Reef Raiders.

Joel Bowen with his sister and best friend, Britt. Picture: Facebook.
Joel Bowen with his sister and best friend, Britt. Picture: Facebook.

"A very special and heartfelt ceremony today, a celebration of the life of a young man taken way too early," a post from the Douglas Heat Basketball Club read on Wednesday.

"RIP Joel, gone but not forgotten."

A moving funeral service on Wednesday was told of Mr Bowen's love of fishing, especially for jungle perch in the Daintree, and the positive influence he had on almost every person he met.

He had an incredible bond with his parents and sister, Britt, and the many friends he made in the Far North and in the navy.

"He was triumphant, he was on fire, he was at the absolute zenith of his being. And now that is forever how he will be," his uncle, Jay Bowen, said.

"Safe from time, free from earthly bounds and forever young."

Joel Bowen loved chasing jungle perch in the Daintree, one of his favourite past times. Picture: Facebook.
Joel Bowen loved chasing jungle perch in the Daintree, one of his favourite past times. Picture: Facebook.

Captain Morthorpe said the Defence Force held their own service for the young seaman off the Mornington Peninsula coast.

He embarked on his navy adventure in July 2019 after finishing his studies at the Mossman State High School.

Mr Bowen commenced his technical training in January last year to become a marine technician, also known as a stoker.

And Australian Defence Force spokesman said they were unable to provide any information surrounding the circumstances of his death due to privacy reasons.

"The death of a Royal Australian Navy member, regardless of the circumstances, is a tragedy and deeply felt by the navy family and the broader Defence organisation," he said.

"Defence extends its deepest condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of the member."

Originally published as 'Forever young': Heartbreak over death of Far North navy seaman



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