Cringila’s Henk Haasjes couldn’t fit into his military uniform any more, so he gave it to his wife Mary.
But first, he had it turned into a handbag.
Born in The Netherlands, Mr Haasjes joined the army for two years under the country’s compulsory military service program
He served as part of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon in the early 1980s.
His battalion was stationed on the border with Israel to stop members of the Palestinian Liberation Army from crossing into Lebanon.
When Israel invaded Lebanon the work of his battalion changed to a humanitarian mission.
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He kept his uniform after finishing his two years’ service.
“Every Anzac Day I’d wear it, even though I didn’t march because I’m not a member of an RSL club, I never really got involved. But Anzac Day I’d wear it,” Mr Haasjes said.
“But the last couple of years it didn’t fit me any more. I was standing there trying to do up the buttons.”
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That’s when he remembered some friends in Holland who had an online business turning clothing into bags.
So he dropped his shirt and beret and sent them to his friends – and they turned them into a handbag.
The handbag includes all the patches on his army shirt – including the one bearing his name – with the UN light blue beret turned into an inside zip pocket.
“If it hangs in there in the closet it would be eaten by the moths,” he said of his uniform.
“Now it’s been made into something that my wife is going to use regularly.
“Plus, in 20 years, she’s still got it – and it stays in the family.
“It’s something you’re never going to throw away.”
Mr Haasjes said it could be a way for people to remember a fallen veteran in their family.
For Mr Haasjes, it also means his wife’s bag comes with a story attached.
“If she’s out and people ask, ‘hey whats with the bag’, she can tell a story about it,” he said.
“ ‘My husband went to Lebanon and he gave me his uniform to make a bag out of it’. That’s [a story] not just on Anzac Day, that’s every day.”