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Marine Veteran recalls "coldest spot of the world" training experience in Norway

Isabelle Cummings
John Bergeon displays his certificate of mission completion at our interview in Fort Myers, Florida on September 30, 2021.

In October of 1988, John Bergeron went with 185 other Marines to a remote town at the northern tip of Norway. They went in order to simulate an invasion to test Norway’s defenses.

"We landed in the southern part of Norway and then we boarded the military C 130 Chicago planes," recalled Bergeron. "It was all open like an open tube with seats and you're strapped in and then when they tell you you’re getting close you put the cold weather gear on."

The goal was to avoid detection, and that created a challenge. Cold temperatures -- as low as 15 degrees below zero.

"We had tents," said Bergeron. "You got to learn how to use candles to keep warm. You dig out little holes and you put a little candle in the hole and it would heat the tent. We had boots called bunny boots that are air pressurized so when you put your feet in, you blow them up and it contours to your feet and it keeps them warm so no air can get through."

Bergeron remembers that the military exercises were successful. It’s no accident that he lives in Florida now. Originally, he’s from New Hampshire.

"The reason why I'm in Florida is because I'm tired of shoveling snow, and the cold- your body takes a toll."