THEY served their nation though not necessarily in times of conflict.
Nevertheless, the loss over the years of former national servicemen who have since died was keenly felt in Albury yesterday.
Dozens of people from across the Border turned out for a National Serviceman’s Memorial Day ceremony.
Further poignancy was added to the event when the names of the 17 men who have died in recent years were added to the memorial, which was placed in a reserve near the Harold Mair Bridge in 2010.
Their names were read out, followed by the sounding of the Last Post and a minute’s silence.
Before the ceremony began a group of serviceman, resplendent in their blue blazers and service medals, carried out a march past.
The ex-servicemen, usually referred to as “Nashos”, undertook national service for periods between 1951 and 1972.
Guest speaker at yesterday’s ceremony was Border Vietnam War veteran and ex-Nasho Gary Treeve.
“I personally think national service was a good scheme,” he said.
Mr Treeve fondly recalled the time when he and his fellow Nashos were lined up, had their names called out and then began 10 weeks of hard training before beginning their service.
“I’m sure the barber involved in cutting off our long locks, which were fashionable at the time, enjoyed it,” he said.
Mr Treeve said they were mainly boys from the bush and took little notice when told to fall in, though they quickly realised it was serious stuff when a “big sergeant” started to bark orders at them.
But there were also “plenty of good memories”.
The National Servicemen’s Association was delighted by the turnout at yesterday’s ceremony.
Albury-Wodonga sub-branch president Niall Russell said that for many years there was no organisation that Nashos could turn to for help and advice.
Because they did not necessarily serve overseas, they were not supported at the time by the RSL or Vietnam Veterans associations.
But Mr Russell said now the Border sub-branch was one of many throughout Australia that aimed to bring Nashos together “within a spirit of comradeship and mutual support”.
“We recognise and honour their service to our nation,” he said.
The association also supports Nashos widows and also raises money for several charities.
Mr Russell was called up in 1966 and served until 1972.
Nashos either undertook three months of training followed by part-time service, or two or more years’ full-time service.
Albury mayor Alice Glachan paid her own tribute, pointing out that the memorial day was as important to Nashos as Anzac Day was to many others in the community.