KOREAN War veteran Neville Dwyer (81) has bittersweet memories when it comes to military life.
His father Stanley Clarence Dwyer fought in World War II with the Rats of Tobruk, who were famous for holding the Libyan port of Tobruk against the Afrika Korps led by renowned German commander Erwin Rommel.
Stanley Dwyer went on to serve in the New Guinea campaign after his time in the Middle East.
The decorated soldier returned home after four years at war. He had four brothers who also fought and made it home safely.
‘My grandma was a very lucky and proud lady; all five of her boys came back,’ Mr Dwyer said.
‘My father never liked talking about war and neither do I. No one ever wins a war in my opinion.’
Stanley Dwyer was given a farm in Callide Valley, Queensland after he returned home.
Mr Dwyer enjoyed growing up and working the farm.
He loved the land and animals and was able to break in a horse at the age of 14. But, at the age of 18 the country boy was conscripted for National Service.
He left for Brisbane for training with the 11th national service battalion and a few months later was asked to join the regular army.
‘I thought this life was pretty good, it seemed adventurous,’ he said. ‘But I had no idea about war.’
In 1952, Mr Dwyer was sent to serve in the Korean War, seven years after his father had returned from World War II. ‘My father didn’t really have a reaction when he found out I was going to war,’ he said.
‘He did say, ‘It will make you a man’ but I think he already thought I was a man.’
The Korean War is something Mr Dwyer doesn’t want to remember. He said it was freezing, in stark contrast to the sweltering conditions his father fought in.
Mr Dwyer returned to Australia in 1955 and continued his military service with the Royal Australian Engineers (RAE) commonly known as sappers.
He spent 12 of his 15 years in the military as a Royal Australian Engineer and was involved in numerous operations, including the maintenance of military roads, camps, airfields and army ships.
He also constructed and deconstructed field defences, which included minefields and booby traps.
‘We did everything. At one point there were 52,000 soldiers enrolled in the Australian Army,’ he said.
After 15 years of military service, Mr Dwyer decided to leave, as the travelling became hard on his wife Valmai and their five children.
He worked interstate before moving to the Pilbara.
He and his wife retired in Armadale 14 years ago.
‘If I had my time again, I wouldn’t change my military service,’ he said.
‘It taught us discipline, respect for ourselves and most importantly respect for other people.
‘I wish young people today had to do National Service.’