WORLD War II veteran Alf Sutherland, 95, recalled with welling tears how his mates were “slaughtered like mongrel dogs”.
As he watched Tangambalanga’s Anzac Day service from a seat in front of the type of Bofors anti-aircraft gun he fought with in Crete, he remembered the men who didn’t make it home.
“Anzac Day is in respect to all those who have fought for Australia,” Mr Sutherland, from Staghorn Flat, said.
“I enjoy my freedom and I am glad I’ve known a backlog of fellow Australians who have done the same bloody thing.”
The former Kiewa RSL president for the past 18 years would know more than most about the sweet taste of freedom.
A prisoner of war for four years in Germany, Italy and Czechoslovakia, he escaped not once, but twice.
“I altered a lot of keys, both to escape the enemy and for the theft of food to feed the inner man,” he said.
About 200 people surrounded the town’s cenotaph in sombre mood.
Among them was Phil Gordon, of Sandy Creek, who fought in Afghanistan from 2008 to 2009 in the Special Operations Task Group extracting our dead — all of whom he personally knew.
“I had to do that too many times,” he said.
“We lost five soldiers while I was over there.”
Mr Gordon, who teaches logistics at Bandiana, said it was hard to remember but it was important to do so on an “extremely emotional day”.
“For me it’s a lot more personal now because I’ve been involved in an armed conflict and lost people that I knew,” he said.
“It gives me the significance of remembering those guys who lost their lives over there.”
Vietnam veteran Kevin Stuart, of Dartmouth, who toured in 1969 and 1970 to 1971, said he couldn’t attend until 10 years ago.
“I couldn’t do them — too emotional,” he said.
But after some convincing from his family, Mr Stuart said it helped him to attend.
“I think it’s very important for the community to commemorate and remember,” he said.
Warrant Officer Class Two Glen Russell was the guest speaker.