Troops who fought in Vietnam will be honoured on Tuesday, August 18, marking the 54th anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan.
The Department of Veterans' Affairs listed the day to remember the sacrifices of those who died, and say thank you to almost 60,000 Australians who served during the 10 years of the involvement in the Vietnam War.
Stawell's Bob Freeland left his bank job behind to spend 183 days overseas as a national serviceman and even celebrated 21st birthday in the Vietnam jungle.
"Most of the time I was there I was out in the jungle," he said.
"We could be out in the jungle for up to 35 days. That's without showering or washing.
"We had some pretty hot moments over there. It's things that when you start reading about it again that it comes to the fore and you understand all that went on.
"While we were there we were just so focused on the job we needed to do."
Mr Freeland said as a positive person he always tried to see the light in most things, including the two years he was in the national service.
"You certainly had your moments," he said.
"For me the two years was like lockdown, you were told what to do, not what you wanted to do.
"You make the sacrifices and when you are at war you are all doing the same thing alongside your mates."
Mr Freeland said it took some time to return to "normal life".
"I'll never forget when I returned and someone would drop something in the bank and I'll end up on the floor," he said.
"The nervousness took some time to disappear. You were hyped up for the moments in war - it's something you never forget but you work through it.
"I'm a person who will tell people about the war. Others will hold back which is rightfully their decision.
"Some experienced more than others. It's all about everyone's makeup and personality."
Mr Freeland said he was grateful he had an "amazing" sergeant while he served in Vietnam.
"We were trained really well to do what we had to do," he said.
"My sergeant was there for his second tour and knew what he had to do and he really got us through.
"I had a few incidences such as where a tank blew up just down the round - it was a hair-raising experience of war.
"Seeing the jets come in and fire - they gave everything buggery that day."
Mr Freeland said he remembered the troops had to run across an open field.
"I'm a pretty good runner," he said.
"Even my Sergeant said to me 'by Christ you can run'.
"When you read about the full account about what happens it makes you understand the whole situation because you don't know the full extent of what's going on at the time. Your sole focus is on the task at hand."
When retelling some of his experiences, Mr Freeland said all who served could write a book about their time while they served.
"We also had some really good times over there," he said.
"We had two sleeping options. You could sleep inside under the hot water pipes or sleep out on the deck with a bit of air movement.
"I don't think people really understood what the war was about. It wasn't fighting in a community it was out in the dense jungle.
"One time we were in an ambush for 25 days - just in the one spot."
Learning quickly about the environment, Mr Freeland said he would never forget when he was bitten by an insect.
"You are sleeping in the dirt, mosquitoes and leeches," he said.
"Early in the piece, I put my hand in the coolness of the dirt, out through the mozzie net while I was sleeping.
"The next thing I know, something bit me. I was up all night. I said to the medic to cut my arm off I couldn't put up with it anymore.
"The medic just told me to knick off because he wanted to get some sleep.
"You had to learn very quickly about the environment."
Mr Freeland said that on returning to Australia it was as if the troops snuck back into their daily lives.
"We flew in to Sydney at 11.30 at night so no one was about," he said.
"It was like we were hidden.
"As the years have gone on things have changed. I felt at the time there was some feeling like it wasn't up to the grade of what war was.
"But when you look back on it it was a horrific war.
"I always look at war as being forefront of history. Being part of that history that is written down and will be remembered forever is an honour."
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