Jackie O'Brien was born at Violet Town but was living in Brunswick when he enlisted at Royal Park on 27 May 1941. He was posted to the REINF 2/24 BTN. Born in January 1923 O'Brien was 18 years of age when he enlisted but had altered his age in order to be accepted for service.
At 19 years and 9 months of age, his bravery at El Alamein on two separate occasions in October 1942 was so sublime, he was awarded a Distinguished Conduct Medal. The citation described how on the night of 30/31 October 1942, six days after retrieving wounded men and dressing their wounds under intense fire, O’Brien, ‘with complete disregard for his personal safety moved forward through terrific fire, entered Thompson’s Post and brought the wounded out from right inside the post... and under heavy fire...though wounded himself did not pause to dress his own wounds.’
The citation went on to say, ‘the cool efficiency and utter fearlessness of this man saved many lives, inspired the men with confidence in the knowledge that if wounded they would receive immediate attention no matter what the circumstances.’ Although he'd been decorated with a Distinguished Service Medal, it wasn't enough to ward of despair and an addiction to the drink. At Caulfield on 11/2/44, O'Brien was sentenced to 18 months gaol, but the sentence was reduced on compassionate grounds. By the time he died, in March 1967, he was a chronic alcoholic and suffering from epilepsy.
When they found him in Phoenix Street in 1967 the local rats had already made a meal of him. Five years earlier, on 18 April 1964, under the heading War Hero Drunk Charge, The Sentinel newspaper told how he'd been sentenced to seven days imprisonment for being drunk and disorderly in a lane off Barkly Street.
O'Brien was found face down in 'some grass off Phoenix Street' on 26 March 1967 by constable John Richard Ballard. He had died about 100 metres from where Parlon had been hit by the train ten years earlier. A Mr Humphries, of Prentice Street Brunswick, had been out walking when he found the body and alerted the police. Alongside O'Brien's body, which had been there for a week, was an empty liquor bottle. He'd been released from gaol on 17 March 1967, following a drunk and disorderly conviction in January.