Albert Fish, a proud ex-serviceman from Erskine Park, has been honoured with an Order of Australia Medal for his dedication to veterans and their families.
His service includes years of work in various roles at the Returned Services League of Australia St Marys sub-Branch, the St Marys Women’s Auxiliary and the Vietnam Veterans Association of Australia St Marys Outpost.
Humbled by the nomination from his peers at the sub-Branch, Mr Fish was completely surprised when he received the letter from the Governor General, believing the award should be shared with all of them.
“I’m very honoured, but feel like it’s more than I deserve,” he said.
“At St Marys we’re a very active sub-Branch and I am only a small part of a whole team. Everybody down there has got their ability and knowledge in life that is working towards something.
“It is another family and that’s why it’s an honour that those blokes felt that I deserved this.”
Even though he was conscripted and served during the Vietnam War, Mr Fish is happy he served as part of the first intake in 1965.
“We didn’t know what was going to happen, no one was there before us to tell us what was going to happen,” he said.
“This year, being the 100th anniversary of the end of WWI it’s important that we keep the story of our ancestors alive, especially because we still have men and women serving.”
After many years ago being subject to the dismissive treatment returning Vietnam veterans faced, Mr Fish is ensuring history won’t repeat and ex-servicemen know they have support.
“I was told in uncertain terms that I hadn’t been to a proper war,” he said.
“It is our belief that that will never happen again, and we are there to help these current serving members as much as possible, that we’ve been there and so we understand.
“The main thing now at the sub-Branch and the community is not about whether you served overseas, it’s if you wore our uniform.
“Anybody who joined the armed forces volunteers to fight, it’s just that some of us were unlucky that we volunteered when a war was on.”
Now 73-years-old, Mr Fish is looking froward to spending the day with his loved ones.
“It will be a quiet, but special Australia Day with a barbecue, some family and friends and a few drinks,” he said.
Emily Newton is the Weekender’s police and political reporter. Emily is also the Weekender’s Senior Journalist.