Like many men of his generation, Richard Hall came close to death during the Second World War.
However, he slowly fought back, recovering from extensive burns after a phosphorus landmine exploded on top of him the Papua New Guinean jungle in 1944.
On Wednesday, the Wollongong great-grandfather celebrated a centenary, turning 100 with friends, family and RSL members by his side.
“I’m feeling good about this,” the sprightly centenarian said at his party at Figtree’s Hillside residence on Wednesday afternoon.
“There were a few near misses, but I’ve made it. I’ve actually thought at times that his last year has felt like the longest year ever because I wondered if I would make it to 100!”
Mr Hall was born in Sydney on January 4, 1917 and enlisted in the armed forces when he was 21.
His unit went to Darwin in 1940, and he was in the Northern Territory capital when it was bombed in 1942.
Promoted and retrained through the ranks, he was a 1st Lieutenant serving in Wewak towards the end the war when he noticed a smoking Japanese phosphorous landmine while leading a platoon through the jungle.
He cleared his men away from the danger, but was showered with phosphorous and badly burned when the landmine exploded.
Son Warwick Hall, who Mr Hall (senior) said “has been like a mate”, said his father’s life was saved by penicillin which stopped him dying from an infection from the bone-deep burns.
After 12 months in hospital in Sydney, the Digger was able to return home to his wife Allison – now 95 – who he married in 1943.
Reflecting on his life after the war, in which he served as a Captain in the Army Reserves, Mr Hall credits his strong 74 year marriage as one of the secrets to a long and happy life.
“I’ve met some beautiful people, especially my wife and her family who are really something special,” he said.
“My wife and I never had a hostile arguement, and the main reason why is that if we had a difference and you can feel an arguement coming, then you shut up, you wait for things to cool down and then you pick the best of both sides to get the best answer.”
The RSL’s state president John Haines, who attended the birthday celebrations, credited Mr Hall’s service and said it was remarkable to see at WWII veteran reaching 100.