Bernard ‘Sandy’ Harvey has always been a fighter.
In World War II he was fighting for his country. Now, at the age of 98 he is fighting for his life.
After falling ill two weeks ago, Mr Harvey has been holding on to see the 75th commemoration of Victory in the Pacific Day.
On Thursday evening at Launceston General Hospital’s intensive care unit, he was visited by Veterans’ Affairs Minister Guy Barnett.
Here, Mr Barnett presented him with a special medal recognising his service.
It’s something Sandy’s daughter Jan said meant the world to him.
“He was just holding out to get this medal in his hands,” she said.
“The hardest thing was he isn’t able to speak and he had so much he wanted to be able to say to Guy Barnett.”
Sandy was 19 years old when he enlisted in World War II, going on to serve in Darwin. Like many veterans, Ms Harvey said her father didn’t speak much about the experience – even though she knew he remembered it like it was yesterday.
“He talks about the heat, the flies, the food being disgusting,” she said. “He talked a lot about digging trenches and how hard the life was up there. It was just a horrible experience.”
Sandy is among about 250 World War II veterans still alive in Tasmania, with about 12,000 left in Australia.
He has been part of the Ross Community for many years as is understood to be one of its oldest residents, but recently went into full-time care at the Campbell Town Hospital alongside his wife Patricia.
The couple have been married for 65 years and after receiving his medal on Thursday, Sandy made the decision to return to Campbell Town to be closer to his family.
Ms Harvey said her father would keep fighting until the end.
“Dad is such a proud man. He loves Australia and he is so proud of his war history, of being a Tasmanian and everything he achieved,” she said.
“He has never been one to put himself out there and say ‘look at me’. He is a quiet achiever and he has always wanted to look after people.
“He loves to be loved, but he loves to love. Even though it’s a very tough situation, we are hopeful to have some more time with him.”
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