Although he never fought during Vietnam, Kevin Long was called up for duty in the army's printing press in Melbourne after gaining his apprenticeship as a printer on the Bega District News in the late 1960s.
The Bega resident only slimly avoided deployment to Vietnam - literally being told at the airport he would not be going - following the Whitlam government's announcement in 1971 that troops would be withdrawn.
Many people said he was "lucky", but he was disappointed at the time since the government "gave nothing unless you wee in a war zone," he said.
His mixed emotions largely changed when he saw how the returned servicemen were treated by their fellow Australians.
"I heard about this service in Sydney where they were spat on and abused by the general public as if it was our fault - we were told what to do by government," he said.
But Kevin's experience with the emotional toll of being a veteran started much earlier in life with his father who fought in World War II and was captured as a prisoner of war by the Germans after being injured on the battlefield.
Although his father "hardly ever" spoke about the war, many of the stories he has gathered came from his father's friends and family.
Kevin's father passed away when he was still a teenager and although he noticed how reserved his father had become in older age, he didn't fully realise the impact of the war on him until he was called up for service for Vietnam.
Kevin's father Walter "Wally" Long was a British soldier, part of the Montgomery troop sent to defend North African deep water harbour Tobruk from Rommel and his brigade of German paratroops and a division of Italian paratroops.
The men of the Tobruk garrison, mostly Australians, withstood tank attacks, artillery barrages, and daily bombings.
The troops made it through without surrendering, but endured blistering heat, freezing cold nights, nightmarish dust storms and lived in dug-outs, caves, and crevasses. For this reason the men later became known as 'The Rats of Tobruk'.
"When the artillery came over they used to crawl into holes in the ground, wait for all the bombing and artillery to finish, then they'd come up out of their holes and fight off the Germans who tried to invade," said Kevin.
Wally was then sent to Crete in Greece for rest and recuperation, however shortly after the island was attacked via airborne invasion as the Germans tried to take three airstrips to supply their troops in Africa.
A small company of mostly Australian and New Zealand troops were left to hold the Germans back while their fellow soldiers evacuated the island. Kevin's father was one of those soldiers.
The troops held the line for around three weeks until they were caught in open fire and dive bomber attacks.
Kevin's father ran for cover but got machine gunned down through both of his legs. He fell, lost his helmet, and crawled behind a sapling to try and take cover.
He stuck his head up to have a look around and was hit in the head with two 20mm cannon shells, that "knocked the top of his skull clean off".
The rest of the troops pulled back and thought he was dead, so he was captured by the Germans.
Kevin said he was a "stretcher case" and was carried his fellow POWs using rifles "all the way through the desert until the German airstrip".
He was flown to Germany where he was patched up and taken to POW camp Stalag Luft III.
"He was in such a bad way he was no use to anyone," Kevin said.
Wally had been a bootmaker before enlisting and was ensconced by the prisoner's 'Escape Committee' to modify heels of boots to smuggle items in and out of camp and to hide things like compasses and maps.
Kevin said the committee would select who would be chosen to escape, with the remaining prisoners doing everything they could to assist with the escape.
"Their imagination was unbelievable at the time and how they got people out."
Eventually Wally was sent on a ship from the POW camp back to London.
"He probably would have been safer in the camp because he was taken back straight into the Blitz on London," said Kevin.
The Blitz was an intense bombing campaign undertaken by Nazi Germany against the United Kingdom.
"He stayed until the end of the war and then he came to Australia as a Ten Pound Pom."
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