Those Who Serve: History comes to life at Dysart High School

Two World War II veterans captivated students with first-hand stories of the second Great War.

EL MIRAGE, Ariz. — In an auditorium at Dysart High School, history came alive Friday.

Two World War II Veterans stopped by the school to share stories of the past and teach the things that the history books cannot.

“War is unpleasant,” said Gilbert “Gil” Nadeau, a veteran of World War II

It was a simple message he felt the students needed to hear.

Gil and his friend, Andre Chappaz, a World War II Army Engineer, met with the students Friday morning to discuss life for people their age during the war.

“They’re involved in studying history, and I think we can give them a lot of detail on the things they’re reading in the books,” said Chappaz.

Chappaz relayed stories of building airbases for B-29 bombers in Guam, while Nadeau told of clearing Japanese-held shores in the Pacific theater with rockets fired from his naval ship.

“To have that face-to-face opportunity with these veterans is something they [the students] can pass on to their children and the next generation; to say, ‘I met a WWII veteran, I got to ask them a question, and I got to hear, first-hand, their experiences,’” said Amanda Thompson, the Executive Director of Best Defense Foundation.

BDF flies veterans like Chappaz and Nadeau to schools across the country to help educate children on the realities of the conditions veterans endured to provide the freedoms that are sometimes for granted.

“I’m 96. I’m old as Methuselah to them, you know?” said Nadeau. “The way they think today, I don’t know exactly how they accept all of this.”

The applause at the end of the presentation hinted that the students took the two veterans’ stories to heart.

“These men and women gave up everything to go fight for their country, sacrifice themselves, really in honor of service, is the most important thing we can pass on to the next generation,” said Thompson.

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