This is my way of marking the commemorative mood on Anzac Day today (25 April) - and paying tribute to those who served in uniform in all conflicts.

Every photographer needs a bit of luck sometimes - and this shot almost never happened .... let me tell you about it.

I was walking past Melbourne's riverside Southbank complex when I saw an old man striding purposefully past me in the opposite direction. He was probably in his late eighties and wore Pacific ribbons on his chest.

"Excuse me," I said as he walked towards me. He appeared not to have heard. Again, I said quietly and respectfully, "Excuse me, sir". He actually walked past, seeming not to have heard.

Then he stopped and turned around and we shook hands and spoke for several minutes. Just before we went our separate ways, I took this shot while he stood and told me his story, his arms folded comfortably across his chest.

Indeed, he was a World War II veteran who served with 18 Squadron as a rear gunner on B-25 Mitchell bombers in the Pacific theatre of war.

Interestingly enough, the Steven Spielberg-Tom Hanks TV mini-series "The Pacific" was screening at the time (which featured some Australian actors, with some scenes shot in and around Melbourne) – so of course we exchanged viewpoints on the screen rendition, which he thought was very true to the war in the Pacific.

Another thing that caught my eye was that he had his medal ribbons tucked into the top zipper pocket of the jacket he was wearing; not securely pinned as most veterans do.

I thanked him, before we parted, for two things. For sharing his story with me. And, of course, for serving.


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