When John Connell was 16-years-old he joined the Air Force so that he could get out of the small town of Mittagong and experience more of what life had to offer.
Looking back now on a career that spanned 36 years of service, the Glenbrook resident said he is proud and pleased of the time he spent serving his country.
“I remember at 16 telling my mum that I wanted to join the Air Force and she said ‘you’ll crash and get killed’,” Mr Connell recalled to the Record.
“It definitely made me grow up from a young age, I had a few close calls that’s for sure.”
Mr Connell joined the Air Force as an Engineer Apprentice in 1950.
Over the years, he advanced through the ranks to become an Aeronautical Engineer Officer in 1964 and retired as a Senior Group Captain in 1987.
In 1968, he travelled to Vietnam where he spent one year in the no.35 Squadron Caribou.
As an Engineer Officer, he spent his days repairing aircraft that had been hit by bullets as well as inspecting planes before they took to the sky, to make sure they were safe.
“There we no days off,” Mr Connell said.
“I was running eight aircraft with over 80 maintenance persons.”
While his wife and four kids were back in Australia, Mr Connell said he came under attack many times.
“There was always the occasional rocket attack,” he said.
“We would go into the bunker and stay there until we thought it was safe. We then come out to see what planes we had left.”
Two weeks ago the now 94-year-old travelled to Canberra for a reunion with friends from his initial service intake.
“We’ve been having these reunions for 67 years,” Mr Connell said.
“These are people that I’ve known since I was 16, the numbers are dwindling a bit now though.”
This year, Mr Connell plans to attend Remembrance Day commemorations in Glenbrook.
For the first time, the Glenbrook service will be held in Glenbrook Park as a result of it falling on the same day as the popular Glenbrook Festival.
President of the Blaxland/Glenbrook RSL Sub-Branch, John Wakefield, said they were invited this year to hold their Remembrance Day service at the flag precinct in the park, as part of the festival.
“The members of the Sub-Branch have accepted the invitation and the normal service together with the laying of wreaths and tributes will take place,” he said.
At the completion of the festival, all wreaths, tributes and poppies will be collected and taken to the Memorial across the highway.
Australia will pause at 11am Saturday.