Goulburn RSL Sub Branch president Gordon Wade knew something was up when he was asked to leave a meeting earlier this year.
He wasn't in trouble, as it turned out, but his committee was hatching a plan.
On Monday night they surprised him with a life membership award for his service to the organisation.
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The RSL represents the interests of ex-servicemen and women. Mr Wade has been a member since 1986 and joined the committee in 1999. In 2000 he was elected vice-president and won his colleagues' support for the presidency in 2001.
"It was very special," he said of the honour.
"I was thrilled to receive it but just as thrilled to be presented with it by (vice-president) Lance Cooke. I have a great lot of respect for Lance and what he's done."
The citation, authorised by the national body, recognised his meeting attendance over 20 years without a break.
Mr Wade said the RSL's sense of camaraderie and mission to help ex-servicemen and women drew him to the movement. His father was a longtime member of the Gloucester Sub Branch. Mr Wade himself was an Army reservist for 20 years from 1965. He joined the Goulburn branch after it had been opened to those who hadn't actively served.
"When I was first elected to the committee I commented that my service wouldn't qualify for the vice-presidency and I wouldn't fit in," Mr Wade said.
"I was assured that wasn't the case and Ken Hazelwood and Horrie Huggett nominated me."
Similarly, he won strong support for the presidency a year later on the back of his vision for the organisation. Mr Wade was also pensions officer for 10 years.
He told The Post he was proud to secure a substantial number of pensions for veterans.
"(But) to see the attendance at Anzac Day and Remembrance Day grow to what is today, as well as the growing recognition of Vietnam Veterans Day, has also been wonderful," Mr Wade said.
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