With a clarinet and a conductor's wand at the ready, Peter Thomas has made his way to many of the world's battlefronts over the past 30 years.
While studying a bachelor of music in Melbourne, Mr Thomas followed the prompting of some friends to become "a part-time soldier", and joined the reserves.
Joining the United Nations peacekeeping operations in East Timor during the late-90s and early 2000s, Mr Thomas said, was one of his "career highlights".
"They were struggling over there, but we were able to provide a bit of entertainment for a while," he said.
"That was our primary role, to provide support."
On the other end of his duties, in 2015 Mr Thomas travelled to the shores of Gallipoli in Turkey to perform as part of the Lone Pine commemorations in August.
This, he believes was one of the most significant aspects of his career.
But after 36 years, in 2018, Mr Thomas left the army to begin a new career in Wagga as an undertaker.
On the surface, the transition looks like an odd one, but Mr Thomas admits it was a result of good circumstances and timing.
"One of the rewarding parts of being in the army band was being part of the repatriation ceremonies and funerals for those who have died serving their country," he said.
"I've been to a few dozen of them. It's never pleasant, but it does make you proud. There's such a huge responsibility to the family and to be there assisting in these hard times, it makes you proud."
Drawing closer to his 60th birthday, Mr Thomas began to look for a life outside of the army and decided he wanted to keep up his support for bereaved families.
"I wanted a job that I could assist families in grief, I didn't want a job that wasn't meaningful to me," Mr Thomas said.
"Every family deals with death differently. Some are accepting, some are not. That's the most challenging and rewarding part of it."
Carving out a career as an undertaker has not been made easier by the onset of the global pandemic, and the plethora of changing COVID-19 restrictions.
"The initial lockdown was the hardest. A funeral is for the family to console each other, to laugh and to cry a little," he said.
Now that the restrictions have allowed for 50 people to gather at funerals, Mr Thomas said the situation is feeling a little more like normal.
Although his new career is still in its infancy, there are a few funerals that already stand out in his memory. Those, he says, are the ones that incorporate the unexpected.
"We have a Harley Davidson hearse which some of the younger people naturally want to use, but there have been some older ladies who love the idea of getting sent off on a Harley," Mr Thomas said.
"It doesn't get used too often, but when it does it's special."