Opinion: My dad, the modern-day Anzac hero

OPINION: The sacrifice made by our Anzacs should never be forgotten. The atrocities they witnessed so the 'Dawn of Nationhood', as some put it, could break over New Zealand, will always be etched in their memories and - in many cases - taken to the grave.

They would have hoped that their selfless act meant Kiwi men and women could live in peace, without fear of being deployed in further conflict.

But as the child of an RNZAF medic, I can tell you this isn't the case … conflict will always rear its head and there will always be service personnel with the courage of our Anzacs, ready to drop everything and serve this nation.

My father, Warrant Officer Cocker F87520, was one of those men, who dedicated his entire being for "king and country", as they used to say. The epitome of pride.

He served in many war-torn countries by patching up those on both sides of the battlefield. He saved the lives of young children who were sick or injured, helped deliver twins in the middle of East Timor's dense jungle using nothing but medical scissors, and even stopped an attack on an American nurse by a soldier suffering extreme PTSD at the Afghan border.

He knew that his mission in life was to use his knowledge to better the lives of others, and made sure he always had a medical kit at the ready in case he got the call to deploy.

This is why I consider him a modern-day Anzac. War isn't as barbaric as what the originals saw, bodies aren't left to pile up in the heat, and not as many men are killed in the battlefield … however new-age servicemen are still forced to give up their lives and be ready at to leave behind loved ones at a moment's notice.

Warrant Officer Cocker would never talk about the horrific things he witnessed, but we knew how tough it was on him. He just carried on carrying on and would bottle it all up so we wouldn't worry.

This defines the Anzac spirit. These men and women serving New Zealand don't complain or wallow in self-pity; they hold their heads up high and get the job done, just like our forefathers.

There were times when I wasn't fair to my dad, my teen angst getting the better of me during the height of our involvement in Afghanistan. He was deployed to Kyrgyzstan and for me, that was the final straw. I would argue and say the military was ruining people's lives.

I soon realised it took immense strength to leave behind his wife and kids. It must have been unbearably painful and lonely at times, sitting in a shitty tent in either the jungle or some dusty desert, unable to speak with us and having to celebrate birthdays, Christmas and other significant events without a single family member around.

My Papa Bear passed away shortly after being promoted to Warrant Officer, and being recognised as Medic of the Year, in 2014. I like to think he knew just how proud we all were of him, and the personal sacrifice he was willing to make to help other people - by sitting and holding hands with a Timorese woman whose family had been killed the night before, crying with an American soldier who lost comrades in an IED explosion, giving aid to people displaced by the Boxing Day tsunami, or teaching paramedics in the Pacific Island the tools of the trade.

F87520 will always and forever be an Anzac hero in my eyes.

Grace Cocker is a Newshub and RadioLIVE reporter.