Veteran Paul Anderson's azure eyes twinkle as he chats and sips a steaming cup of coffee before dawn on Anzac Day.
But the blue almost deepens when the Tauranga RSA vice-president remembers his experiences and talks of the importance of the historic day.
The 75-year-old Bureta resident got up early to attend the dawn service at the Tauranga cenotaph, just as he has for many years.
He said the day was especially meaningful for him as it bought back old memories as his time as a soldier in the Malaya Emergency.
The Ode, in particular, was a stand-out element of the traditional service.
"It honours those who have fallen or passed after the war," he said.
Despite the heartache of war and hard work involved with being in the army, he said his time in the army was "enjoyable."
"You tend to remember the good times more than the bad."
After joining the army in 1964, he spent time training at the military camps at Waiouru and Burnham.
In August 1965 he was sent to South East Asia to be stationed at Terrendak Camp in Malacca. He was then was posted in Borneo in 1966.
When he returned to New Zealand he worked as a sales representative at a post office in Auckland before heading to London to work as a professional chauffeur for seven years.
He moved to Whakatāne around 1983 and worked again at a post office. In 1984 he moved to Tauranga where he worked as a lingerie sales representative.
He then owned and ran the Bureta Superette for a time before working for Champion Flour.
He said it was difficult to readjust to normal life after the structure and discipline in the army.
The veteran kept himself busy and had recently visited Gate Pa School to share with the students the significance of Poppy Day and what happens to the funds raised.
"If you keep talking to the children every year they learn more," he said.
Anderson was meeting up with an old friend and veteran later this year whom he had not seen since 1967. He said seeing photos of their time stationed bought the memories flooding back.