Colonel Bertrand was born on July 14, 1939 (Bastille Day) in Mankato Minnesota. He joined the Marine Corps on 1 April 1962 as a Marine Aviation Cadet (MARCAD). Upon graduating from Naval Flight School on December 23, 1963, he was designated a Naval Aviator and commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps. He then reported into the Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (3rd MAW), Marine Aircraft Group 33 (MAG 33) and assigned to VMA 311 as a Squadron Pilot, flying the A4E Skyhawk.
On April 1, 1965 Colonel Bertrand deployed with VMA 311 to Iwakuni Japan for a one year overseas tour. The Squadron’s primary mission was nuclear weapons. On or about May 1, 1965 the squadron stood down from the nuclear mission and made ready to deploy to an undisclosed airbase in Vietnam which would eventually become known as Chu Lai. He flew 180 combat missions in Vietnam.
Upon return to the United States, he reported to the 3rd MAW, MAG 33, and was assigned duty as the Assistant Administrative Officer of the Marine Air Group until his release from Active Duty in December 1966.
Continuing his Marine Corps career, in the Marine Reserve, Colonel Bertrand Joined Marine Air Reserve Training Detachment (MARTD) at Naval Air Station Los Alamitos and was subsequently assigned to VMA 134. It was during this period that the Marine Corps reorganized the MARTD system of administrative and operational oversight to a mirror image of the Active Duty Forces. Collectively, the Marine Reserve ground forces became a “Division” and the Marine viation assets became a “Wing”. Thus the 4th Division and the 4th Marine Aircraft Wing. Marine Aviation personnel assets at NAS Los Alamitos became Headquarters of Marine Air Group 46, (MAG 46). As part of that administrative and operational change, MAG 46 physically moved its location from NAS Los Alamitos to MCAS EL Toro. While attached to MAG-46, Colonel Bertrand served in various capacities from Squadron Operations Officer, to Executive Officer, Operations Officer of an amphibious exercise, the Air Combat Element Commander of a Combined Arms Exercise at 29 Palms California, and the Active Duty Deputy Commander of MAG 46. During his career, Colonel Bertrand has deployed some 19 times and attended two classes at the Naval War College located at Newport Rhode Island.
In 1986, Colonel Bertrand Reported to the augment staff of the 4th Marine Aircraft Wing, in New Orleans, Louisiana as the plans officer. Following that 1 year tour he returned to MCAS El Toro and took Command of Mobilization Training Unit 47. It was at that point that Colonel Bertrand also became the first Vice Chairman of the newly formed MCAS El Toro Historical Foundation which founded the first Marine Aviation Museum at MCAS El Toro. When the Marine Base (MCAS El Toro) was closed by the Base Relocation and Closure Commission (BRAC) and moved to MCAS Miramar is when the Flying Leatherneck Historical Foundation first became the supporting administrative body of the museum which is now to be located at the Great Park in Irvine California.
Colonel Bertrand Retired from Marine Corp on August 31, 1994. Active and Reserve, 31 years, He served over 5 years as Vice Chairman of the MCAS El Toro Historical Foundation. As this is written, he is still active in pursuit of a Marine Aviation Museum at the Great Park in Irvine California, formerly MCAS El Toro.