Paul ‘Dusty’ Miller, veteran and beloved father of five, has passed away of a suspected heart attack while walking the Kokoka Track.

Paul, who had joined the Australian Army in 1991 and experienced four deployments, had been trekking as part of a fundraising effort by fellow veterans and first responders with the support group Operation Unity SA.

Paul was on the second day of the challenging hike with his 17-year-old son, Aaron, when the tragedy occurred. His partner of 23 years, Amanda, confirmed the devastating news.

“Paul wore many hats – a Father of 5, Partner, Son, Brother, Uncle, mate, Veteran, an even (46th class), sports fan, and a passionate advocate for veterans,” she wrote on Facebook.

“As many of you will know, Paul and Aaron went to Kokoda together last week. Unfortunately on the second day, Paul had what is believed to be a heart attack. Despite all efforts of assistance and of CPR, Paul was airlifted out and it has been confirmed that he had passed away on arrival at the hospital.

She went on to offer thanks for the efforts to revive Paul, and for the safe return of their son, Aaron, before noting that “in true Dusty style, he went out with a bang – doing something that he has always wanted to do … Kokoda.”

Meanwhile, Paul’s daughter Sarah shared her own emotional tribute to social media, writing that her “whole word [was] falling apart.”

“I still don’t want to believe it,” she said. “I still want to believe that Dad will call me and tell me everything will be okay.

“My best friend, my hero, my safety blanket is gone, but I know his memories will live on forever and I will always be meeting people that loved and knew him.”

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade released a statement of their own to confirm the news, sharing that they were “providing consular assistance to the family of an Australian man who died in Papua New Guinea. We send our deepest condolences to the family.”

When Operation Unity SA shared the news of Paul’s passing – and Amanda’s original post – the late veteran was met with an outpouring of love, with condolences flowing for his family memories, and his surviving legacy.

“He was a colleague, a mate and brother to many. Dusty was always there for others. I will miss my mate and brother. Till we meet again in Valhalla big man,” wrote one friend. “Lest we forget.”

“RIP Ole mate glad [I] had the opportunity to know you and your caring nature,” wrote another. “Thanks for being a part of our lives you will be sorely missed by all mate.”

“All of our love and condolences to Paul’s family. Paul was a true champion and a gentleman, who made the ultimate sacrifice serving others, again, for which there truly is no honour great enough,” shared Diving Veterans & First Responders Program.

And as another friend said, everyone would be “sending love and thoughts to your whole family and everyone Paul touched during his life. He was an amazing asset to both the veteran and greater community and will be sorely missed by everyone.”

Images: Facebook

This article first appeared on Over60.