Veteran recalls 'gung-ho' country men eager to fight
EX-NATIONAL Serviceman John Aitken recalled many of his fellow servicemen as "gung-ho” country men who "had to prove a point for Australia”.
The 79-year-old reflected on these characters before the Rockhampton Anzac Day parade today.
Mr Aitken was part of the third intake in 1958 and was called to go to Borneo.
"I remember a fella of 18-years-of-age was all gung-ho and wanted to get in there and mix it up,” he said.
"A lot of these fellas that went to Gallipoli had come from the country and rode horses.
"They got in because they were all gung-ho and had to prove a point for Australia.
"It cost lives but they did prove a point.
"Anyway, we had got all of our needles and all that to go to Borneo, as well as our last lot of training towards the end of our national serviceman agreement.
"We were all set to go and then all of a sudden an English battalion of national servicemen, with more seniority, went instead.”
After completing 20 years of national service, Mr Aitken did 25 years with the army reserves and loved every single minute of it.
He said if he had his time over he would be in there doing it all again.
Today, Mr Aitken is President of the National Serviceman's Association of Rockhampton and was overjoyed to see the number of children involved in this year's Anzac Day parade.
He described Anzac Day as a magical tradition that he hopes continues on for many years.
"We don't know how long we have got on this Earth, but we make the most of what we have,” he said.
"It's great to see all these people around, especially the children because it means they know exactly what is going on.
"There were a lot of sacrifices, notably Gallipoli, and that part hurts. But I am glad the rest of us can continue on as we are.”
He said he wants the youth of today to never forget Anzac Day and teach their children about it when they become parents so they can then teach their children right down the line.
"I don't know how long Anzac Day is going to last - I don't know what is going to happen when all the veterans will pass on,” he said.
"There are no World War I veterans, World War II veterans are in their 90's and National Servicemen are in their 80's.”