He miraculously survived the hellfire of Gallipoli, flew secret missions for Lawrence of Arabia and helped found an international airline.
But recognition has largely eluded the decorated Great War soldier, ace pilot and Qantas co-founder who helped shape the course of Australian history.
Despite his remarkable achievements, Paul Joseph McGinness died in 1952, broke and alone in Western Australia, far from the Framlingham family home of his childhood. His ex-wife and daughter were the only souls to mourn by his grave.
But now the proud Western District community where McGinness grew up say it's time to honour the man they regard as a true local hero and give him the dues he deserves.
In front of a Gallipoli Lone Pine at Panmure's war memorial, a plaque highlighting McGinness' achievements will be unveiled at Thursday's Anzac Day service.
Panmure Action Group president Ian Wallace said it was hoped McGinness' two grand-daughters would make the trip from Western Australia for the event, joining an expected 30-strong contingent of local extended McGinness family members in the march.
A letter from Qantas CEO Alan Joyce acknowledging McGinness as a driving force behind the establishment of the home-grown airline nearly a century ago will be read during the service.
"Without doubt, we have south-west Victoria's own Paul McGinness to thank for putting the flying kangaroo in the air," Mr Joyce wrote.
Mr Wallace said the choice of McGinness as this year's Anzac Day honours recipient, the fifth annual accolade made to a local identity, was an obvious one.
Describing him as "a humble icon in Australian history", Mr Wallace said McGinness had enjoyed a brilliant military career, was a father of modern aviation and pioneer of bush craftmanship.
"We at Panmure will remember him on Anzac Day for what he was, a true local hero, by honouring him with a small memorial and plaque," Mr Wallace said.
"In my mind, without a shadow of a doubt, he is an unsung hero."
Fittingly, the task of unveiling the plaque will go to another Paul McGinness, a relative of the man after whom he was named.
The Panmure resident said he was honoured to take part in the ceremony recognising his grandfather John's cousin, the man they knew as 'Ginty'.
Warrnambool RSL memorabilia officer and military history buff David McGinness knows better than most the stories of sacrifice and heroics of our serving men and women.
But the address he will deliver at the Panmure plaque unveiling, dressed in the World War 1 aviator's uniform of his ancestor's day, will have an extra personal element.
McGinness was "one of his own". A cousin of David's great-grandfather and the stuff of family legends, he has been a significant influence on his interest in all things military.
"He's certainly a man I admired and one of those understated people in our history. He was a trailblazer in his own way," said David, who is the custodian of several letters written home from the front by McGinness.
A skilled horseman and shooter in the tradition of his Framlingham family, Paul McGinness was welcomed into the Light Horse when he enlisted as an adventurous 18-year-old in 1914, taking his own horse Silk to the Broadmeadows training camp and then on to Egypt.
At Gallipoli, just three weeks after the disastrous April 25, 1915, landing, Private McGinness found himself in the thick of the action with the 8th Light Horse. Although wounded at the August 7 Battle for the Nek at Walker's Ridge, he was one of just two men of 150 to survive the charge in the first line of attack.
Back in Egypt the following year, the then sergeant was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM) for "good scouting and leadership of his troop".
But McGinness was destined for a higher calling. Pursuing his childhood dreams of flying, he transferred to the Australian Flying Corps where he earned a reputation as an ace pilot credited with shooting down seven enemy aircraft over the Sinai Desert.
Seconded for a time to Colonel T. E. Lawrence's (Lawrence of Arabia) secret X Flight wing of the Royal Flying Corps, McGinness' courage and daring in action earned him the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC).
Back in Australia after the war, McGinness and his mate, former gunner and observer Hudson Fysh planned to enter a 10,000-pound air race from London to Sydney. When their finance fell through, they were instead commissioned by the Australian Government to survey the Longreach-to-Darwin section of the route. In their cut-down Model-T Ford they were the first Europeans to traverse the outback track.
Seeing the potential for commercial aviation, McGinness and Fysh tipped in their own funds with Queensland grazier Fergus McMaster to form the Queensland & Northern Territory Aerial Services Ltd (QANTAS) on November 16, 1920.
In 1922, McGinness flew the first run of the fledgling airline's mail contract across outback Queensland.
Soon after, he left the company to start a new life on the land in Western Australia with a wife and two young daughters. Sadly, his earlier success was not to continue with bankruptcy and divorce preceding his early death in 1952 aged 55.
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