Service gives identity to Noel
NOEL Pope was 18 years old when he joined the military, and life as a private reshaped his whole identity.
He had been working as a carpenter's apprentice in Brisbane, without any family around, and the army offered things he craved - better wages, community and the opportunity to serve.
His transformation began during basic training at Kapooka, near Wagga Wagga in New South Wales.
Out of 1400 recruits, Noel was awarded most outstanding soldier, one of only two awards offered at the time.
It was a turning point in his life.
"I was a shy bushy kid and lacked a lot of confidence, especially where the Aborigines were at at that time,” he said.
"I distinctly remember when I got that award and I was marching back into the ranks, something in me said 'I'm as good as everyone else'.
"When we joined the army we all changed; we all came from different walks of life.
"The military changed who we were and I am very grateful for that.”
Noel was deployed in Vietnam in 1972-73, and what he encountered there made him thankful for everything we have in Australia.
This Anzac Day he will be marching through Theodore with fellow veterans and community members, reflecting on the pledge they made to serve and protect, and remembering the sacrifices all service men and women have made.
"Anzac Day is a sacred day to veterans,” Noel said.
"Sacred in the sense that it's remembrance, it's reflection, and it's respect.
"It's not about the actual stuff that we did; it's about us coming together and protecting each other.”
Noel said the military taught him key values that have stayed with him throughout his life - the values of responsibility, relationships, respect and ownership, as well as service.
"Once you serve in the military you will always be service personnel,” he said.
"You give back to the community and you want to make the world a better place.”
Anzac day Schedule
Biloela:4-4.30am, Cenotaph, Biloela RSLA Park, Callide St
Taroom:5.30am, Taroom Cenotaph, Leichhardt Hwy / Yaldwyn St
Moura:4.15-5am, Moura RSL, corner of Marshall St and Young St
Wowan:5.30-5.45am, RSSAILA Memorial Hall, Don St
The service will be followed by a breakfast.
Cracow:5.45-6.30am, The Boulevard
Theodore:6-7am, War Memorial, Bull Ring, The Boulevard
Tea and coffee to follow the service.
Monto:5.45-6.15am, RSL Club Rooms, 7 Rutherford St
Biloela:9.30-10am. Marchers assemble at Achievement Park, beside Biloela Information Centre
The march will proceed along Callide St and finish at Biloela RSLA Park, beside the Biloela Anzac Memorial Club.
Moura:10-10.15am. The march begins at the service station on the Dawson Hwy, and ends at Moura RSL
Wowan:10.15-11am. Ambulance Station, Railway Ave
Theodore:10-10.30am, Hotel Theodore, 23 The Boulevard
Biloela:10-10.30am, Cenotaph, Biloela RSLA Park, Callide St
Moura:10.15-11am, Moura RSL, corner of Marshall St and Young St
Wowan:11-11.45am, RSSAILA Memorial Hall, Lot 12 Don St
The service will be followed by a barbecue and social bowls.
Theodore:10.30-11.45, War Memorial, Bull Ring, The Boulevard
Barbecue to follow the service.
Taroom:10.30am, Taroom Cenotaph, Yaldwyn St, 10.30am
Monto:10-11am, Monto Community Hall, 51 Newton St