A Katherine resident who came close to death during the Japanese bombing attack in 1942 turns 80 today.
Juanita Heparia was born at Katherine Hospital in 1939, and remembers a very different town.
The roads were dirt tracks and the hospital was just two small buildings.
Clyde Fenton, the Northern Territory's first flying doctor, had arrived to the town of around 300 people a few years prior to her birth.
She was living with her family on Second Street and everyone felt safe from the devastating Japanese bombing raids attacks in Darwin, living so far away, she said.
"I was sleeping when the bombing started (in Katherine) and my parents took my sisters and ran," she said.
"My father told me he looked around for me and couldn't find me anywhere so he ran back as fast as he could.
"I was still asleep in bed.
"Just as we were running back to my mother and sisters a bomb fell on the house, completely destroying it."
About 90 bombs were dropped March 22. One man was killed.
The family was evacuated to Alice Springs, and shortly after Mrs Heparia was taken from her parents to South Australia.
Part of the Stolen Generation, the long-term Katherine resident has dedicated her life to helping others impacted by the trauma and helping troubled youth to get back on track.
Looking back over her 80 years, she said the town has changed considerably, but not everything is for the better.
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"Youth crime has broken Katherine," she said.
"Katherine has really grown from the dirt tracks, but I am sad about the break-ins and I am sad children are still being taken from their parents."
"We are thinking this is going to start another stolen generation."
Working to support families in the region as a counselor for the Katherine Regional Stolen Generation Corporation still to this day, Mrs Heparia said there is a generation of trauma in the Indigenous community.
Not only does she provide talks at schools about culture and respect, she said, she helps to run a series of programs teaching children about their history.
"We know the trauma these kids and these families go through," Mrs Heparia said, "and for many that creates a lot of stress and flow on effects."
"Alcohol is not our culture, so it destroys our lives, drugs are not our culture, so it destroys our lives, we teach them bush ways."
While she doesn't have a solution for the crime spike devastating the town, she said everyone as a whole needs to step up, and especially elders in the community.
Despite a tough upbringing, a multitude of traumatic life events and people lost, the 80-year-old has been looking forward to this exciting milestone.
Young at heart, Mrs Heparia, keeps busy on a range of boards and always saves time to talk to people on the street, she said.
With two bucket list items still to be ticked off, and after hearing countless stories from the grey nomads which migrate through Katherine each year, she is planning a trip around the country before it is too late.
"I want to go around Australia to see how big and beautiful this country is, and I want to hold snow in my hands."
Mrs Heparia will be celebrating her birthday with a cultural talk at Macfarlane Primary School, today, and a small get-together with her family.
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