Australia is preparing to honour its Vietnam veterans 50 years after Australian involvement ended. There is to be a grand ceremony on Vietnam Veteran's Day in Canberra on Friday.
But for Ian Thompson, the honour comes late. He still remembers the dishonour heaped on him when he returned.
He was in the thick of the war as a pilot on a gunship. He flew 450 "strikes" (combat missions in enemy territory) in 12 months - more than one a day.
He reckons he came under fire more than 20 times, albeit with a single hole in his aircraft. "Some of the strikes - many of the strikes - entailed taking ground fire. We shot at them and they shot at us," he says.
When he returned to Australia, he was spat at by the public - and vilified by veterans of other wars.
"I came home on a Qantas 707 and as I was walking down the stairs, people were spitting at us and calling us 'baby killers'," he said.
"That left a bad taste."
But what also left a bad taste was meeting two veterans of World War II in a Returned and Services League club shortly after returning to Australia from the battlefield in Vietnam.
"I was having a beer and they asked me, 'What are you doing here, sonny?'
"I told them I had served in Vietnam and they told me, 'Vietnam wasn't a real war'.
"I was angry with that. I thumped the beer onto the table and, as I exited the place, I turned back at them and I said, 'You tell that to the wounded and the dead that I carried out of the jungle in Vietnam. Those people were in a real war'.
"That was the welcome home party that I received.
"And that was the last time I was in an RSL."
Because of those two incidents - the spitting and the scorn from the WWII veterans - he didn't go to an Anzac Day parade for 29 years. He only went in 1991 when the Vietnam War memorial was erected on Anzac Parade in Canberra.
"That's when I felt pretty much at home. It was pretty emotional and it still is," he said, his voice breaking. He now finds the Dawn Service on Anzac Day "cathartic".
But he said that the initial insults "still hurt".
"The Australian public, the RSL have a lot to answer for, in my view," he said.
And he says that he had it a lot easier than conscripted national servicemen had it. They often came back and were given train tickets to country towns where they faced the hostility alone and unsupported by their comrades.
"They arrived at four o'clock in the morning and were told by the army to make their own way home. And they went back to the farm. They went back to the people who didn't understand their experiences," he said.
The president of the New South Wales RSL has just made a formal apology for the way some Vietnam veterans were treated.
Ian Thompson says it's come far too late.
- Friday's ceremony starts at 10am. Entrance free but registration required. The Australian War Memorial has extended hours on Friday and Saturday.