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Dedicated to veterans

March 30, 2013 - Jim Anderson
I was saddened to see the notice of Bernard Raymond’s death.

I would chat with Bernie, off and on, through the years, whether he was doing custodial work, courtroom work, or veterans work. He died Thursday at ManorCare in Kingsford at the age of 91. Arrangements will be announced by Erickson, Rochon & Nash.

Bernie had an outgoing, positive personality that was a little bit infectious. It was always a pleasure to see him.

About five years ago, we published a section on military veterans, and Bernard Raymond was recommended as one of the subjects.

I called him to set up an interview, and he was happy to oblige. But later he called back, saying he no longer wanted to do it. Didn’t feel worthy. Didn’t want to be seen as self-promoting.

Eventually, he agreed. A repeat of the published story follows:

Ex-Marine dedicated to veterans causes

IRON MOUNTAIN — Bernard Raymond enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1943.

He’s been serving his country ever since.

“I wanted to make my life career in the Marines,” he said. A leg injury ended Raymond’s stint in the Marines after just 14 months.

Upon his return to Kingsford, he began volunteering for veterans’ causes, launching a new career of service that has spanned seven decades.

Pfc. Raymond, trained as a tank driver, was injured in the summer of 1944 at Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands. The Pacific island had been in Allied hands for more than a year when Raymond arrived with the 4th Marine Division.

The Marines at Guadalcanal were preparing for Operation Detachment — the campaign to capture the island of Iwo Jima from Japan. The battle of Iwo Jima, fought over 35 days in February-March 1945, was won at the cost of nearly 7,000 American lives.

“It was heavy on our minds,” Raymond said of the looming Iwo Jima invasion. “We were in heavy training, but I was more than willing to go.”

Raymond was injured assisting a fellow Marine, a paratrooper who suffered a severe cut — possibly from bomb shrapnel — while working shoeless in the water to unload a ship. Raymond heaved the bleeding Marine on his back to carry him. On the way to getting aid, he stepped into a hole, wrecking his ankle.

Raymond spent several months in rehabilitation, including some time at New Caledonia in the South Pacific, before he was given a medical discharge.

He married “an Arkansas girl,” Josephine, upon his return, still wearing a cast. The injury has lingered a bit. So has the marriage, going on 65 years.

Through the years, Raymond has been very active in veterans groups, including the American Legion and Disabled American Veterans. He is a longtime officer of the Dickinson County Office of Veterans Affairs and has served on the Dickinson County committee of the Michigan Veterans Trust Fund.

“I was proud to serve at the time I was in,” Raymond said of his career in the Marines. “I’m happy to help out (with veterans groups) whenever I can,” he added.

Assisting veterans and their families, and helping out in the fraternal work of veterans groups, is just one way to respect the sacrifices of so many others, he continued.

“We lost a lot of men over there,” he said of the Pacific battles of World War II. “Thank God it came to an end.”

 
 
 

 

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