AFGHANISTAN War veterans took centre stage for the first time at the Albury Anzac Day march yesterday.
Servicemen Peter Fleming, Anthony Cou-ghlan and Brett Newman were part of the 25-strong contingent which led the parade down Dean Street in front of a massive crowd.
The war in Afghanistan began in 2001 soon after the deadly terrorist attacks in the US with more than 40 Australian soliders killed in action in the ongoing conflict.
Mr Newman said leading the parade, which included a rousing flyover by a World War II Kittyhawk fighter plane, was a proud moment.
“It was pretty special,” he said.
“The majority of the guys have recently served.
“I think today has made Anzac Day more contemporary for a lot of people.
“It brings it into the 21st century in a way.
“It is a great recognition of accomplishment for us in a way.”
At the other end of the spectrum, World War II Digger Don Dennis is a veteran of more than 30 Albury parades.
But after marching in every parade since returning from action in New Guinea, Mr Dennis opted for a ride in an ex-army jeep this year.
He turns 90 in July.
“I only just made it last year,” he said.
“I actually enjoyed it more with the crowd really appreciative.
“It was a chance to take it all in.
“Our numbers are dwindling unfortunately, but we haven’t got too many left.”
Click on the video below to see the Albury Anzac Day march. (iPhone users go to Video tab in Menu.)
Another Albury march newcomer was former Kiwi John Crawford, who moved to the area in February this year to be closer to family.
Mr Crawford served a combined 21 years in the New Zealand navy and air force.
His service include the Malayan Emergency which began soon after the end of World War II and lasted 12 years.
The Kiwis were part of the anti-communist forces which involved Australian troops.
The march unfolded without the dramas of last year when schoolchildren exited the parade at QEII Square.
Despite being school holidays, Albury primary and secondary schools were out in force for the march.
In altered arrangements, schools followed behind the Diggers and army personnel before leaving the march into Smollett Street.
The remaining march participants turned into Elizabeth Street.
Albury RSL sub-branch president Graham Docksey said the format worked well.
“It was just a matter of refining what was already in place,” he said.
“People were able to get a really good look at what was happening.
“The weather helps a lot and can make or break an occasion.
“We got lucky.”