FRANK Schmidt, a 97-year-old World War II veteran living in Ararat, says he remembers every part of his service.
He saw mates killed, taken prisoner, and even lost his hearing from guns fired in close proximity - but what he seems to remember most clearly is the time his entire unit got sea sick.
"The worst trip we ever had was when we got on the boat ... it was a cargo boat, and most of them were sick before we moved," he said.
"Three of us went for meals out of about 60. The rest were tucked in bed for the whole trip crook.
"We should never have got on that boat."
Born in Kaniva, Mr Schmidt enlisted in 1941, aged 20.
He served as a transport driver in Australia and in New Guinea after completing his training in Mount Martha.
From there it was off to Geraldton in Western Australia, four and a half hours drive north of Perth, before completing four years of service in New Guinea.
He is a third generation Australian of German heritage, but said his surname posed no issue with his unit mates, and he felt no connection to Germany.
"We got on well," he said.
"We only had a small unit and ... we had a real good set-up."
That support was not found at home though, which made life more difficult.
"All the war, I heard from my mother once," he said.
"I heard from my father none.
"I didn't know what was going on at home. I heard from Mum when she was short of money."
Mr Schmidt's older brother had also enlisted, though in the airforce.
"We were just forgotten. They never ever expected us to return," he said.
Mr Schmidt said he had been happy to volunteer for service.
"I said 'I'll go. I'll have a holiday!'" he said.
"But it wasn't a very good holiday," he joked.
Mr Schmidt sustained permanent damage to his hearing in New Guinea from the sound of the guns, which worsened over the years.
Now he is profoundly deaf.
"I was too close to the artillery and it used to shake our bed every time they fired, and they fired half the night," he said.
"We lost two prisoners (to the enemy). I said to the boss 'what if you shoot the two prisoners?'
"He said 'they'll still be better off dead than tortured by the enemy'.
"We lost (another) two blokes. One went off his head and was sent home, and the other fella got shot.
"We were cleaning up the yard up before we left and they threw a bucket of bullets in the fire.
"I was standing next to him and he grabbed his side and fell on the ground.
"A bullet went in and where it went out, I don't know.
"They sent him straight home and I never saw him again.
"Whether he survived I don't know. He was the youngest one we had in our unit.
"I can remember just about everything that went on."
After nearly four years of active duty, Mr Schmidt took his first 10 days of leave.
"The day we got back from leave, war finished," he said.
"We had to go right back to the island again and pack up all our gear while the rest of the unit went on holidays."
The day the announcement was made, Mr Schmidt was still in Melbourne on his leave, and everyone went wild.
"We were in camp in Melbourne and they gave us the day off," he said.
"We met these girls who told us to get into their car.
"They passed trams on the wrong side ... so we went back by tram."
Mr Schmidt's wife, June, said Mr Schmidt was lucky he didn't get injured during the celebratory joy ride.
"A lot of them up in the buildings were sick ... of course they were drinking," he said.
Mrs Schmidt said people were throwing flour down from windows onto people in the street.
"It was drizzling so you can imagine what that was like," she said.
The rest of their life together has been spent in the western region running farms, raising two daughters and eventually building the Ararat home they have now retired into.
Mr Schmidt said he had not kept in touch with any of his unit mates, and none were local Mr Schmidt's own region.
Mr Schmidt will be attending the morning Anzac Day services on Thursday.
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