ALWYN Melville Craig may not be a household name in Newcastle, but the man it belongs to is perhaps among the city's best-known residents.
Most knew him simply as 'Pete', and a plethora of rumours about how he came to live rough on the streets of the city's East End have abounded over decades of speculation.
Now though, through a quirk of fate, such speculation can be put to rest after a Newcastle Herald story put into motion a chain of events that looped to Florida, Wollongong and back to the Hunter and gave a family answers sought for so long.
It is difficult not to feel a pang of emotion reading what rediscovering his beloved brother means to Harold Craig after all these years.
Only the hardest of hearts would be untouched at the idea of such a reunion, and what it would mean to any of us if we walked in their shoes.
That it occurred in part due to an online Newcastle Herald story from December 21 last year about a plea to help find the city's famous homeless man, known to many simply as 'Pete', a permanent home, is bittersweet.
This masthead is proud to have played a small part in such a dramatic story through the journalism of reporter Matthew Kelly, but such an epic tale also demands reflection on the factors that led to its dramatic set-up.
Is it a happy ending, a story about a family reunited after they were separated for so long?
Certainly, at least in part. But it is difficult not to wonder if it also tells the tale of how some of those facing the hardest battles in our community can be the first to slip through the cracks when expert support, which goes far beyond loved ones prepared to help, is not readily available.
Former Newcastle Vietnam Veterans Association president Stephen Finney said many Vietnam veterans were haunted by mental health challenges linked to their military service.
"You couldn't talk to anybody about it because you didn't know what sort of reaction you were going to get from the person you were talking to," he said.
"The experience drove a lot of people into holes and solitude."
RSL Lifecare has sent a representative to meet Alwyn, Mr Cross and Harold following the family's revelations to discuss future support options, including housing.
There is a tragic side to the story in the fact that Alwyn will likely not return with his family to Wollongong. Discussions continue, but family members have conceded it's unlikely. "I love him dearly but it's knocking the shit out of me knowing I can't just take him by the hand and say let's go," Harold Craig told the Newcastle Herald this week. "You can't do it, it's not reality."
Many of the realities of the past 30 years have been hard ones in this case. They point to flaws in the systems designed to help the most vulnerable, and those deserve scrutiny as the first step towards improvement. Equally, though, the perseverance of all involved shows hope is never lost.