ANZAC DAY 2017: Military mateship on display
ONE wears a "lemon squeezer”, the other wears a beret, but they are united by shared experiences of serving their countries.
Mick Bellam is from New Zealand and served in the armed forces for 10 years from 1965.
His mate Grahame Thomas is Australian, enlisted in Parramatta in Sydney and served until 1989.
They said their friendship was an example of the strong relationship and partnership between their two home nations.
"Between the two countries, there's always been a good rapport. We've always looked out for each other,” Mr Bellam said.
"It's as strong as ever. It's a shared history, and it's like a team,” Mr Thomas added.
Both men said it was important to remember both Australian and New Zealand soldiers on Anzac Day.
As Mr Bellam said, there would be no Anzacs without the Kiwis.
"You can't forget the lemon squeezers,” he said, referring to the unique shape of the New Zealand soldiers' hats.
The pair attended the Kingaroy Anzac Day march and service together in full military attire.
They said, as always, it was a moving occasion and a chance to reflect on what the first Anzacs sacrificed.
Mr Bellam, 69, who lives in Kingaroy, took the opportunity to reflect on his unique introduction to the defence force.
"I didn't get to go overseas, but I did just under 10 years in the army. In 1965 I joined as a Regular Force Cadet, commonly referred to as boy soldiers,” he said.
"I joined Regular Force Cadets at the age of 15. At 16 we graduated to go into the regular army.”
Having joined the armed forces at such a young age, Mr Bellam said he was often struck by the importance of carrying the Anzac legacy on into the next generation.
"I think we should respect what they've done for the future generation. I'd like to see more young ones enlist,” he said.
For Mr Thomas, 73, who lives in Nanango, Anzac Day was an opportunity to reflect on the value of the defence force to Australia.
He even offered up a novel solution to a serious problem.
"I think they should bring conscription back. That's what they do overseas,” Mr Thomas said.
"If they joined the services they get could get trained and could go out and get a job. That's why there's so much unemployment.”