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Five World War II veterans share experiences with New River Marines

By Alison Parker
Published On: Dec 24 2013 07:49:10 PM CST
Updated On: Dec 18 2013 04:22:16 PM CST
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION NEW RIVER -

Marine Corps Air Station New River hosted an educational event to hear from five veterans of World War II, who shared their experiences with active duty Marines.

"We never, ever talked about what we did in service," said retired Tech Sgt. Russell Bond, regarding his transition into the civilian world.

Plane crashes, prison camps, and secret missions here some of the dark times in the past of five WWII veterans that came to light at this question and answer session.

As these men transitioned to live after war, none received any help -- an amazing concept to LCpl. Alex Mansikka, who has all the services he needs through today's Marine Corps.

"I think it's pretty incredible that someone could go through something like that and then pretty much make it out on their own," Mansikka said.

More than 100 active duty Marines gathered at the New River Air Station to hear living history.

"I thought it was a good experience, just hearing from veterans that fought in a completely different time frame than we did, and they have different experiences," Mansikka said.

Bond was in the Army Air Corps, sworn to 40 years of secrecy for the missions he completed as a Carpetbagger.

"We flew at night, and dropped spies, and ammunition, and so forth behind the enemy lines," Bond said.

It was hard for him to open up at Wednesday's panel.

"I've never expressed myself outwardly, to anyone at all," Bond said.

Raoul Gagnon fought in WWII, Korea and Vietnam. His advice to current Marines is to love, and honor their jobs.

"If everyone does their own particular job, then we still work as a team," Gagnon said.

Though their service inspires today's Marines, the veterans were very humble.

"There's nothing to brag about," Bond said. "We had a job to do, and we did it."

As on display was a collection of WWII helmets, medals and other equipment.