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World War II Spy Shares Stories in Bangor 

Catherine Pegram

The adventures of a World War Two spy were vividly recounted before an audience in Bangor Thursday. Dozens of people, including many who grew up during that era, heard the tales as part of the annual meeting for the Eastern Area Agency on Aging.Rene Defourneaux knows about life behind enemy lines. He came to the United States from France when he was 18 years old – and in 1943 volunteered to join the Army.”I felt so bad for France and didn’t want the US to lose anything. I thought that the U.S. had helped France earlier and I wanted to participate in something.”And that he did – training as a spy. He was then sent to England for a secret operation created by Winston Churchill. His assignment, to be dropped into France, behind the German line, to sabotage occupation forces. He says the riskiest part of the job was the ride.”Jumping from a lower altitude is probably the worst one, the most dangerous one because everything else I know what I was doing.”Defourneaux is also the father of the Eastern Agency’s executive director Noelle Merrill.Defourneaux’s wife, Virginia, shared her own experiences, too, as a wartime nurse. She says she still marvels at her husband’s life and death adventures. “I think he must have been crazy at times. He had the training, he had the ingenuity and apparently he was brave enough to carry it out, so I admire and respect what he accomplished.”Defourneaux says he was always proud to serve his adopted country and hopes the thousands of men and women on the front line today are, too.”Don’t give up, don’t give up, keep on going. They’re doing a great job. I think this country’s worth fighting for.”Defourneaux continued his military intelligence career after the war and retired in Indianapolis with 22 years of service. He’s also written two books about his experiences and a couple of World War Two novels.