Anzacs Alan Russell, Bill Downer, Vic Exall and Ron Page will take part in the Goodna Anzac Day service.
Anzacs Alan Russell, Bill Downer, Vic Exall and Ron Page will take part in the Goodna Anzac Day service.

Spirits still burn brightly

WITH more than 324 years of life experience and multiple tours in conflict zones from World War II to Vietnam between them, these blokes have a story or two to tell when they get together.

Ron Page, 92, Vic Exall, 81, Alan Russell, 72, and Bill Downer, 79, had a beer at Goodna RSL this week following the funeral of another fallen mate, 78-year-old Percy Radunz.

They reminisced about old days, poked fun at one another and remembered their mate because "that's what diggers do".

Funerals, unfortunately, are one of the reasons these ex-servicemen get together these days.

Another is Anzac Day, and when the Goodna RSL dawn service begins at 4.27am next Wednesday they'll get together again.

"It (ex-servicemen get togethers) is about mateship and a few good yarns," Bill said.

"And for men to get away from their wives," Vic's wife Marie added.

"We're all from different places and conflicts yet we have one central thing in common," Ron said.

Anzac day activities in Goodna have a strong focus on the next generation, thanks to sub-branch president Vivian Stanbury.

The 7.30am parade will be led by a former defence nurse, 91-year-old Jean Olinek, but many diggers will march with family members.

"I have the children marching with their grandparents," Ms Stanbury said. "In all our events we have a strong focus on kids here in Goodna and the veterans are revered by the kids."

The four ex-servicemen agreed the Anzac spirit was alive and well in the next generation of Australians.

"Bill and I sell Anzac Day badges and remembrance poppies and the amount of young women with little children that are interested is wonderful," Ron said.

"They really want to know what it is all about."

As sub-branch members, these four diggers travel to schools throughout the year, ensuring the Anzac legend remains alive.

On April 25, it's their turn to stop and remember.



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