SEPANG, Malaysia — Thirty-nine National Malaya and Borneo Veterans Association (NMBVA) members from the United Kingdom regard Malaysia as their second home although they left the country about 50 years ago.

As soon as they arrived at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) on flight Malaysia Airlines MH03 from Heathrow, London, they recalled their good old times in Malaysia in the 1960’s, especially the warm and friendly people, the hot weather and the traditional Malay villages.

“I have no bad memories of Malaysia. They were just happy times. I miss the old Malaysia when there were all kampung.

“Now Malaysia has changed a lot and it is good for the people and country,” said former British soldier John Knowles, 75, who arrived with his wife Barbara, 73.

Knowles and 38 other NMBVA members are in Malaysia to take part in the National Day 2017 celebration at Dataran Merdeka, Thursday.

He was a lance corporal in the Royal Medical Corps based in Terendak Camp from 1965 to 1966 and their son and daughter were born in Terendak.

The couple said after the National Day celebration, their daughter who is now staying in Australia, would join them for a vacation in Penang.

NMBVA international liaison officer John Measham, 71, who is leading the group, said he visited Malaysia every year for a vacation since he left the country.

“Many people asked me what is so special about Malaysia. To me, it is everything. I love the beef rendang, satay, prawn mee and nasi goreng.

“This is not the first time I am involved in Malaysia’s National Day celebration. I participated in its 50th National Day celebration in 2007,” Measham said.

He said he stayed at the Minden Barracks, Penang when he served the British Army Royal Green Jacket from 1965 to 1967.

“Now the Minden Barracks site has become Universiti Sains Malaysia. I was also sent to Borneo during the confrontation.

“I had a good time doing many jungle patrols and hiking along the border (Malaysia-Indonesia),” Measham added.

Michael Denis Smith, 70, who was based in Labuan from 1965 to 1967, arrived at KLIA with his wife Margaret, 71. They look forward to meeting as many old friends as possible during this visit.

Besides taking part in the National Day celebration, the NMBVA veterans will also visit the Commonwealth Memorial at Terendak Camp, Melaka.