CONNECTION TO THE PAST: Light "horsemen" Sammy Warren and Kendell Davies led the Airlie Beach Anzac Day march. Photo Sharon Smallwood / Whitsunday Times Sharon Smallwood

Airlie Beach man grateful for 'brotherhood' of veterans

FOR Vietnam War veteran and Airlie Beach resident Josef Concy, ANZAC day is the "most important day of the year".

Mr Concy, who served in Vietnam from 1967 to 1970 wore his beret, uniform and medals at this morning's ANZAC day march and Airlie Beach service.

"It's been absolutely magic. It's just the best day in the year," he said.

"We meet up with some of the people I served with, Australians and so on, and also other people from other regiments.

"We're like a brotherhood. It's the time we meet."

State member for Whitsunday. Jason Costigan, Airlie Beach Councillor Jan Clifford and Royal Australian Navy chief petty officer Rod Brennan were the guest speakers at the 8.45am service, which was attended by thousands.

"It's encouraging to see our community keeping the ANZAC spirit alive by attending our ANZAC day ceremonies each year. In particular the children," Cr Clifford said.

Mr Concy said he too was pleased to see a large number of young people at this morning's service.

"That's the most important part. It's not us any more, it's to show the younger people what it's about," he said.

"The thing is, I hope that they don't think war is the solution to everything in the world."

Jubilee Pocket man, Tony Schulz, attended with his daughter Ella Schulz and granddaughter Summer Draheim, aged three.

Mr Schulz said he was paying respects to his uncle Ken Branson, who had been a sergeant in the Second World War and passed away last year.

"He was a spitfire pilot who was shot down, ended up a prisoner of war, made it to France and got back," he said.

Mr Schulz said his family attended the ANZAC service every year.

"(And) we always try and find the time to play a bit of two-up during the day, that's our tradition," he said.

VMR Whitsundays member Geoff Smith attended the service in memory of his father, who served in the British Royal Air Force during the Second World War.

"It's important to remember those people who fought for your country," Mr Smith's wife Celia said.

A group of seven Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) servicemen and women even travelled from Townsville to participate in the service.

"We've got corporals, sergeants, flying officers. It's a true representation of the defence force," RAAF FLTLT Mark Cranston said.

"Myself along with the other members have all seen active service overseas, so it's a great day to come and pay respect to those we've actually served with."

During the service, Mr Brennan told the story of the ANZACs, of whom 36,000 were killed in the eight months after landing at Gallipoli in Turkey on April 25, 1915.

"Many of these men were only teenagers, some as young as 16," he said.

"All were anxious to prove their courage and national identity."

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