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NZ veteran, 98, in first Anzac Day march

14:01 Wed Apr 25 2012
AAP

Frank Harlow's still broad chest sagged under the sheer weight of medals on his left lapel.

The wheelchair-bound New Zealander is older than Anzac Day itself but while age may have wearied his bones, the memories of a youth spent serving the Anzac alliance burns brightly.

Sergeant Harlow (retired), 98, was among the first to complete Sydney's Anzac Day march on Wednesday.

Accompanied by relatives and buoyed by a warm reception afforded to all the marching servicemen, Mr Harlow's arrival at Hyde Park after completing the parade was a special moment.

"It's the greatest experience of my life," the Sydney resident said.

Having suffered a stroke a few years ago, Mr Harlow thought he'd never be able to take part in an Anzac Day march.

This was his first.

"It's been marvellous. I didn't expect to ever see anything like this," he added.

He served during World War II with the New Zealand Divisional Cavalry in Greece and returned a highly decorated warrior.

Plenty of his mates didn't come back at all.

"You can't help but think about them," he said.

Mr Harlow was 28 when he fought. He remembers one boy in his division who was just 16-years-old. Another was 18.

"Very, very young men. Brave too. They're why I'm here today."

The oldest and most frail warriors were handed the honour of leading Sydney's march on Wednesday.

A fleet of taxis carried dozens of elderly ex-servicemen, most of whom were simply too old or too fragile to complete the short journey.

Spontaneous applause echoed along George Street as the veterans' cars edged slowly forward, with thousands of flag-waving wellwishers greeting them.

About 20,000 former soldiers, current servicemen and women, police and relatives took part in the march.

Jets roared overhead as part of a military fly-past honouring the marchers.

Sydney's pubs were open and the beers flowing by 9am (AEST).