Sharing the spirit of the ANZACs in Toowoomba
ANZAC Day is "the most important day of the year for all Australians".
That's according to Felix Parker OAM, who served in the Royal Australian Air Force for 27.5 years.
"It's a day when people come together to share a spirit," he said.
"It's particularly important that young people keep that spirit going because it's an integral part of Australia and Australian history."
Felix, whose many duties saw him serve in Singapore, Borneo and Malaya in 1964-66, Vietnam in 1969-70, and as a peacekeeper in the Middle East in 1976, was just 16 when he signed up in January 1958.
He was slightly blinded, he admits, by a vision of flying as air crew, which he didn't manage to do for some time.
However, fly he did eventually, as a helicopter crewman in the No.5 Squadron in Australia and No.9 Squadron in Vietnam. He was a Sergeant in those days and finished his airforce career as a Wing Commander in July 1985.
He saw many battles while in Vietnam, dropping troops in, bringing the injured out and re-supplying troops.
"War is never pretty," he said.
"You do what you have to do in that situation.
"You have a specific role and you have to fulfil that role.
"Sometimes it's not very pleasant, but you still have to do it."
Looking back, he said, what left the biggest impression on him was "the awful loss of life that occurred, not just on our side but on the enemy's side as well".
At the time, of course, there was no time for empathy, it was simply a case of you or them.
"You have a job to do and they have a job to do, and somewhere in the middle things aren't going to go right for one of you," Felix said simply.
A member of the Harlaxton RSL sub-branch, he believes strongly in the RSL's role in looking after the service, ex-service and veteran community to ensure they are adequately cared for by the government they fought for.
However, he said the RSL also played an important social role, giving ex-service people who have had common life experiences a place to meet with people who understand what they have been through.
In today's world of uncertainty, and the media coverage of one-off terror events, he said it was important to remember how many major wars were still going on in places like Syria and Iraq.
"There are skirmishes throughout the world," he said.
"They said 1914-18 was the War to End All Wars, but really, we've never stopped."
It's a sad thought as we remember all those who have served and sacrificed for us, on Tuesday, April 25.
ANZAC DAY IN TOOWOOMBA
5am: Dawn Service and Parade at Mothers' Memorial, Queens Park. Marchers assemble from 4.30am.
6am: Gunfire breakfast. (Harlaxton RSL members at North Toowoomba Bowls Club.)
7am: Drayton Memorial Service. Assemble 7am for 7.20am march. Service 7.30am at Drayton War Memorial.
9am: Wreath-laying at Mothers' Memorial.
10am: Anzac Day Service and parade at Mothers' Memorial. Marchers assemble in Margaret St, north of Ruthven St, from 9.15am.
12 midday: Harlaxton RSL hosts a private gathering and service for ADF personnel, past and present, at North Toowoomba Bowls Club.
For details on other district services go to www.tr.qld.gov.au/events.