There was some laughter and there were tears as the Vietnam veterans of 3 Victory Company gathered in remembrance and solidarity in Napier yesterday.
About 50 veterans of the company, in Hawke's Bay for the third reunion of the company which saw action during the war in 1968, took part in the commemorative service at the Taradale RSA where wreaths were laid and memories of comrades passed on were rekindled.
For many of the veterans, who during their tour of duty spent around 300 days in the jungle on search and destroy missions, it was a buoyant yet emotional time of catching up - especially when the roll of "fallen comrades" was read out.
As well as the names of the two soldiers who were killed in action, Private Michael Wickman and Lance Corporal Don Bensemann, the roll of those who had died through the years since returning to civilian life were read out.
As the names were read out several veterans put their hands to their faces - the memories and moments were too strong.
A large number of friends and family turned out for the service, and there was plenty of support from passersby who spotted the 3 Victory Company banners and realised it was a reunion of Vietnam veterans.
The resulting sound of car horns tooting was constant. The time to reflect and remember was followed by a function at the RSA.
One veteran said "we have to make of this - some of us won't be here for the next one."