Jordan Rice's father writes a gut-wrenching tribute to his brave son.

Jordan Lucas Rice should be celebrating the milestone of his 18th birthday this year. Instead, the freckle-faced boy is being honoured with a posthumous bravery award — because when floods ravaged his home state five years ago, he sacrificed his life to save his brother.

To mark the presentation of the bravery award at Queensland’s Government House yesterday afternoon, Jordan’s father  has written a beautiful tribute to his brave son.

“It hasn’t been an easy journey. Life takes many turns. This one, for me, was the cruellest,” Jordan’s dad John Tyson writes in the gut-wrenching piece for

Donna, Jordan and John.

Tyson also reflects on the trepidation Jordan must have felt as the waters surged round him. "He was scared of water and the dark and we’d joke that he was a 'sook,'" Tyson writes. "He was quiet, yes. But he was tough. He was the toughest fella I’ll ever meet in my life."

Tyson also describes how Jordan "put his fears aside to make sure his brother made it through the terrifying flood."

As two civilian rescuers approached and moved to save Jordan from the surging waters, Jordan told them: "Take my brother first." The rescuers obliged and swept Jorda's brother Blake to safety. Just moments later, Jordan and his mum Donna Rice were drowned in the floods.

The difficult years following Jordan and Donna's deaths have been filled with reflection on the little boy's strong character, John writes.

"[T]through that devastation, I kept returning to one thought about Jordan. Perhaps I was wrong about him. Perhaps he wasn’t shy: perhaps 'shy' was a label that didn’t really fit someone who took those actions, who said those four words," Tyson describes. "I remember discussing my boys with a friend while watching them play. He asked who I thought the toughest was; I said Jordan. He laughed and fobbed it off. A few weeks later he proved it.


"Tough isn’t always loud and brash and brazen. Tough is sometimes four words quietly but firmly spoken by a boy who couldn’t swim as water threatened to submerge him. Everyone can be tough when the need arises."

Jordan rice with his mum, Donna.

Tyson also explains what prompted him to start the petition calling for Jordan to receive the bravery award.

"I couldn’t be there for my Jordan, who couldn’t swim, when he had to make that fateful decision and close off all his fear and do something astonishing," Tyson writes. "So as a dad, it was only fair, only right, that I fought for him, for something in reality he would’ve been too shy to accept."

He adds that the success of the petition -- which received more than 300,000 signatures -- has left him overwhelmed with gratitude by the public's support.

"I’ve fought through hell, but I’m still here. I lost half of my family that day, and most of my heart," he writes. "But I want to thank everyone who signed my petition for my son and helped me honour him in the appropriate way. Our journey hasn’t been easy, but I’ve learnt you can trust the word of the public far more than you can the word of politicians."

Tyson with Blake, Jordan's surviving brother.

He adds on the Facebook page for The Jordan Rice Foundation:

"It is due to the simple stroke of the pen and the hundreds of thousands of emails and phone calls which have provided sheer weight in numbers that has ultimately resulted in the largest petition in Australian history.

"I would personally like to thank each of you for your generosity, support and solidarity as it is YOU that has made this award happen."

The award ceremony at 2pm will be live-streamed at this link.

Tags: current-affairs , fatherhood , kids
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