It was an extra special dawn service at the Auckland War Memorial Museum with a fallen veteran attending his final dawn parade.
Francis Toko passed away yesterday aged 77-years-old. He was taken to the service by his family and laid next to the Cenotaph in his casket.
“He always went. I’d take dad in his wheelchair to the dawn service, but I had to take him in his casket this morning,” son Manu Toko said.
Francis Toko suffered a stroke 11 years ago. Manu said his health had been failing, but his death yesterday was unexpected.
He wanted to honour and respect his dad by taking his body to the Anzac dawn service at the Auckland War Memorial Museum.
“This was his last dawn service and the last dawn parade where his medals will be worn on the left-hand side of his blazer. He won’t be wearing them anymore-we will in his honour, but on the right-hand side.”
Manu says it was a soldier who suggested they lay his father’s casket next to the Cenotaph.
“That was pretty special. I was happy to leave dad in the hearse at the front of the cenotaph, but they said no, bring him out.”
Lance Bombardier Francis Toko served in Vietnam, and was a member of the 161 Battery. He is of Ngāpuhi and Ngāti Whātua descent.
A funeral service for him will take place at the Pt Chevalier RSA on Wednesday 26 April from 10.30am. His whānau will then return him to his final resting place at Kaihū cemetery in Dargaville on Friday.
Te Kāea will have more of this story tonight.