There are some aspects of his experience from the Second World War that Neil McLean doesn't like to share.
But the 90-year-old veteran, who served overseas with the Saskatchewan Light Infantry (SLI) from 1941 to '45, won't forget, either.
Yes, he saw combat in Holland, Sicily, and Italy, and yes, he lost some of his comrades.
Extracting any more details about what he witnessed is, he rightfully believes, unnecessary.
"There's nothing to tell, really," he said. "I don't like to talk about that stuff. It's done. As far as I'm concerned, I don't glorify the years of war, but I certainly respect the people who were in it."
The longtime Maple Ridge resident - he moved to the community in 1968 - will take the salute during the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 88 Remembrance Day ceremony in Maple Ridge on Sunday, Nov. 11.
The platoon of veterans will give the "eyes right" or "eyes left" as they march past, McLean explained.
Standing on a podium, he will salute them.
This is the second time such an honour has been bestowed on McLean.
"I done it once before with a couple other guys," he said. "Ten or 12 years ago."
In 1941 in Regina, then 18-year-old McLean enlisted in the Canadian military.
"At that stage of the game, we were very patriotic," said McLean, who joined his two older brothers in service to their country.
One brother, Herbert, joined the Royal Canadian Air Force; the other, Hector, was in the same unit as McLean.
A private for most of his time with the military, McLean's role was range taker.
He explained: "I had a range finder machine that I laid down and I folded it open. It had two [lenses] on each side. I could see targets and I had wheels to turn to find out the distance. I zeroed in on whatever targets were visible so that our machine guns were set at the right range."
McLean called Italy "a hell of a place."
Conditions were difficult. The soldiers lived off beef and crackers and, McLean noted, each time his regiment moved ahead, they seemed to run into a river or a mountain.
"You could send a reci [reconnaissance] over to check the area out on the other side, but it looked calm sometimes, and so you'd go to cross and when you were halfway across, all hell would break loose," he said.
McLean feels fortunate he was never wounded in battle, and he did find some humour in the grim theatre of war.
"It was all different," he said. "One time we were up by the river there, and our signals broke down, so they sent me to another platoon of ours to get messages and bring them back and forth. There was enemy on both sides. Anyway, I went back there and it was raining, and it was dark, and I knew where I was going. I was going along this path through the bush and I felt somebody was behind me. I thought I'd stop anyway and make sure. The guy bumped right into me. He said RCR (Royal Canadian Regiment) and I said SLI!"
After receiving his honourable discharge on Nov. 10, 1945, McLean returned to civilian life.
He and his wife Velda married and had five children, three sons and two daughters and from them came 13 grandchildren and six great grandchildren.
Velda passed away in 2006.
McLean had several jobs once the war ended. "I couldn't settle down very good," he said.
He found work in a general store, in construction, as a cement finisher, and as a contractor for more than a decade.
He joined the provincial parks branch as a park technician before retiring in 1987.
Attending Remembrance Day ceremonies always pulls emotions out of McLean.
"I just reflect back to my old buddies from them years," he said.
"A lot of them are gone, now. I'm really happy we've had so many years of peace in Canada. There's not much peace around the world right now, but we still have it here."
@ Copyright 2013