Wagga man John Rooke has been honoured with an Emergency Services Medal in recognition of his dedication to the Volunteer Rescue Association.
Mr Rooke joined the New South Wales VRA in Wagga in 1981 and has not left since.
"The reason I joined was that it let me show my commitment to the community and was a way I could help out, but it has grown into one massive, lovely family," he said.
The passionate volunteer became Captain from 1982 until 1986, and is currently the Squad's Boating Captain which be has performed as since 1982.
Mr Rooke said the award was something he'd never expected to get.
"It is very exciting, it's a great honour," he said.
"I think the comradeship between all members in the state is the greatest thing, there's a lot I've seen and done I wouldn't want to single out any as it is mostly dealing with badly injured or deceased people."
Mr Rooke has left his mark on Wagga in many ways, including the provision of assistance to both the city and other squads in the NSW VRA in purchasing and maintaining boats through his family business.
During the 1974 floods in Wagga Mr Rooke also loaned boats and motors free of charge and carried out repairs on boats and motors to assist the squad undertaking rescues.
Despite the praise from the community and those who know him best, Mr Rooke said there is always room to grow.
"You can always improve what you do, and technology today definitely makes things a lot easier or different but I wouldn't change any of it," he said.
"You just have to keep moving forward."
Respected by peers, family and fellow VRA members, Mr Rooke has no plans of slowing down.
"I'll be sticking around here until about April or May, then I'm off to travel around Australia for four or five months," he said.
"If somebody needs help at stations along our travels though we will give them a hand for a few weeks.
"I'm not one to just sit around and be idle, it's good to be able to help people."
Mr Rooke's award citation said he is a very well liked and respected member of the Wagga VRA and is "a great mentor to the young members", who "respect him for his knowledge and ability in the rescue field".