ANZAC DAY: Reg is one of Maryborough's true heroes
TO NEVILLE Noakes, the name Reg McCubbin is synonymous with the word hero.
He uncovered the Maryborough man's story while writing about his own father's service during the Second World War.
While they did not know each other, Neville's father, Frederick Sydney Brown, and Mr McCubbin both served in Sparrow Force, which was formed in 1941 to defend Timor from invasion by Japan.
Mr Noakes was separated from his family at birth and only found out that he was adopted when he asked his mum for his birth certificate so he too could join the armed forces.
Mr Noakes is himself a veteran, having served as an officer in the Intelligence Corps in Vietnam, Germany and Britain.
His search for answers about his biological family led Mr Noakes to pen the book Never Meant to be Heroes, an account of the history of Sparrow Force and his father's service.
"I was very fortunate to make contact with Reg and some other surviving members of Sparrow Force," he said.
Incredibly, one of Mr Noakes' surviving brothers, living in Biggenden, saw the book online and got in touch.
"We met three years ago," he said.
While serving in Timor, Mr Noakes' father was taken as a prisoner of war and was forced to work on the Pakan-Baraoe railway line in Sumatra.
Liberated at the end of the war, his father returned home to find his wife had deserted him.
He spent months recuperating in Dawes Road Repat Hospital in north Adelaide, recovering from the harsh treatment he received working on the railway line.
Meanwhile Mr McCubbin had escaped capture as he was working at a hospital further inland. He trekked 230km across Timor with about 15 mates who were all combat engineers, Mr Noakes said, then found another group and fought alongside them for the remainder of the year.
Mr McCubbin, now a resident at Chelsea Aged Care home in Maryborough, returned to Toowoomba to recuperate before he was redeployed to New Guinea where he fought in every major battle, Mr Noakes said.
To say he was brave would be an understatement, he said.
"Incredibly brave - he's my hero."
Anzac Day remains a vitally important day to Mr Noakes, because of his own service, that of his father and the men he has interviewed over the years.
Today he will go to mass in the morning before going to Hervey Bay for the main service after the parade at 9.15am.
Speaking to the Chronicle in 2015, Mr McCubbin, now 99, said he wasn't discharged until after Christmas in 1945 when he completed his service in New Guinea.