There have only been two occasions during his 82 years when Tom Gunn experienced genuine fear.
The first was during the Siege of Jadotville when, as a 23-year-old soldier in the strife-torn Congo, he spent five days under fire.
The second, more recent and closer to home, was when he tested positive for Covid-19. "That was when my entire life flashed before me," Tom told the Irish Independent.
"That was the hardest part, I'm telling you straight because when I looked back on everything that went before, I was left thinking, 'Is this the way I'm going to go? Am I going to be taken out by a bug?' Then I was thinking about what kind of send-off I would get - or not get.
"For a soldier, the ceremony of a military funeral is so important. We like the old bugles and pipers, so to think I would have to just be cremated with no one, that was just unbearable. But fear is a good thing. It gets you doing things right because your reactions are faster."
It's been almost three weeks since Tom, a retired Irish Army corporal from Mullingar, first began to feel unwell. It started with a mild cough, one he endured for a day or two until he decided to call his GP.
"I had to wait to get a date for a test," said Tom.
"About a day later I got awful sick, I was very feverish and coughing. It was frightening. My daughter Anne rang an ambulance and brought me into county hospital in Mullingar. When I got there I was put into isolation straight away and tested for the virus. Four days later it came back positive."
Tom, like many other elderly people reading and listening to the news on Covid-19, feared the worst.
"It was very much on my radar and I was afraid of getting it," he said.
"I had been on a big walk a few days before, some of the group had been in the company of fellas who had been to Cheltenham. The alarm bells started to ring with me then when I realised I had picked it up from somewhere."
In hospital, Tom's symptoms intensified and he struggled to fight the infection.
"I could see the writing on the wall the way I felt," he said. "The fever reminded me of a bug I picked up in the Congo. Back then it put me in a right state and I was hospitalised for two weeks in an isolation unit. It was almost the same type of fever, an awful weakening fever that just floors you."
In 1961, Tom was one of 158 members of the 35th Battalion 'A' company, a band of Irish soldiers who defended a UN outpost in Jadotville against 5,000 mercenaries and Katangese rebels. The men, many in their teens or early 20s, only surrendered when they ran out of ammunition. Despite their numerical disadvantage, they killed 300 rebels, while incurring no casualties.
During his time in the isolation unit of Mullingar Hospital, Tom drew on his Army experience. "You can't imagine what it's like," he said of his physical pain.
"Your lungs are on fire. I developed a system of my own that helped me get through it. I would hold on to the rail on the bed behind me and breathe in as hard as I could 12 times, one after the other and then cough to clear my chest. I said to myself, 'I cannot win if I lie down, my lungs are all congested.' Being in the Army, you see, you think up things to survive.
"I would do that about three times and I would pull my chest asunder but it worked. I wasn't going to just lie there and let this take me."
Tom was given the all-clear by doctors on Thursday and was able to return home to his wife of 60 years, Theresa. They have 11 children, 25 grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren.
"I'm delighted to be back home," he said.
"The doctors checked me over and said I was free to go home on Thursday. They were able to get my oxygen levels up and then they did a big test on me, walk up and down the ward 20 times unaided with the doctor watching. It was like a military drill so that was no problem for me at all."
This weekend, as he reflected on his victory over Covid-19, he encouraged others to stay positive.
"I came very close to death in Jadotville," he said.
"We came under fire for five days and five nights from thousands of soldiers so I know what it feels like to be truly scared.
"[This time] I knew it was there and I was helpless, but I knuckled down and faced it head on. That's what everyone else should do.
"It's important to stay mentally focused, to keep the spirit up. Where there is life there's hope and everyone should remember that."
We have had our first death in town. It took the wind out of our sails. Everyone had been doing so well - supporting one another on WhatsApp groups, uploading uplifting songs and stories on Facebook and making sure everyone obeyed the rules.