A PROUD Forces veteran from Wearside was giving this fitting send-off as he was laid to rest.
Bob Steabler, who served in the King’s Royal Hussars regiment as a young man, died earlier this month after battling with lung cancer.
The 76-year-old, who was a widower following the death of his wife May, served for almost a decade in the Army before he was medically discharged.
Giving him the funeral they knew he wanted, dad-of-seven Mr Steabler’s coffin arrived at Sunderland Crematorium in a FV432 armoured personnel carrier.
Originally from Hylton Lane, he passed away in Pennywell on August 12. Members of the city’s Armed Forces Network also turned out to pay their respects, with a standard bearer provided.
Mr Steabler’s granddaughter Ann-Marie also made an emotional reading before the ceremony came to a close.
His family say his passion for his Forces career lived on in him throughout the rest of his life, during which he worked as a farm labourer and also as a drayman for Wearside brewery Vaux.
A regular at South Hylton WMC and the Round Robin pub, he was known as a likeable man who was always up for a laugh and enjoyed a game of dominoes over a pint.
Paying tribute to his dad, son David said: “My dad was a lovely, bubbly man who will be very much missed. It breaks my heart that he has died.”
Chairman of Sunderland’s Armed Forces Network, Graham Hall, said: “We put out a notice through the network that Bob had passed away after his son David contacted me.
“All veterans are passionate about showing their support when other veterans pass away.
“They know it’s important that they are remembered for the service they gave, which is why they attend events like this.”
As well as his seven children, Mr Steabler leaves behind more than 30 grandchildren and a number of great-grandchildren.