Crowded into a plane with six other men and ready to drop a 10,000-tonne bomb on enemy ground.
That's what former New Zealand Air Force man Jack Meehan remembered surrounded by about 150 people on Sunday at the unveiling of the new Pyes Pa cemetery statue and monument.
The monument is dedicated to Bay of Plenty armed forces personnel who lost their lives.
"We need to have these to remember," Mr Meehan, vice-president of the Mount Maunganui RSA, said.
"There is nothing worse than war."
Old and young listened intently to the many stories, poems, dedications and Bible quotes during the two- hour unveiling of a proud stone soldier and 2m tall stone plaque which now stands, watching over the cemetery.
Speeches by past and present service men, politicians and ministers were followed by the traditional three-shot firing by uniformed soldiers and a sombre lone trumpet playing.
There were tears as they remembered and paid tribute.
Like many of the former servicemen who attended the 10am service, dressed in uniform and some proudly displaying their medals, yesterday was a time of reflection for Mr Meehan.
The 87-year-old was 22 in 1942 when he signed up in the Royal New Zealand Air Force and headed for West Germany.
"They said if you could make it through about six missions you would probably make it through the war," Mr Meehan said.
He made it through 30.
These involved heading out with up to 2000 other bomber airplanes, attacking enemy ground. There was a constant amount of fear during his two years in the air force.
"I remember seeing planes blowing up beside me in mid-flight," he said.
His crew came close to disaster during one expedition when shrapnel from the a bomb they released came back and hit their plane.
"We didn't realise what had happened until we had got back on the ground. We were really lucky."
When he finally stepped back on to New Zealand soil in 1946 he was "totally relieved."
Another Bay man, George Coventry who stood wiping tears throughout yesterday's service, remembered his time in World War 2 when he was just 8-years- old. His two sisters and parents were forced to move three times after their London homes were bombed and Mr Coventry left school at aged 9 when his school was turned to rubble.
He says he lost about 100 relatives and friends to bombs and gun fire.
He came to Tauranga in 1972 and hasn't looked back since because England holds too many bad memories for the 77-year-old.
"Today has brought back a lot of memories, it's a time for reflection," he told the Bay of Plenty Times.
Elliot Funeral Services owner Neil Gedge, who donated the $20,000 soldier statue, talked about the importance of the having a monument to remember those who gave their lives for the freedom of New Zealanders.
- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES
Online link: The Auckland War Memorial Museum has a Book of Remembrance on its website for people to post messages on to remember those who served and died in war.