For a quarter of a century, Donald Roan Dunagan worked his way up through the ranks in the U.S. Marine Corps. During that time, the Texas native carefully hid his historic role as the model and voice for one of Walt Disney’s most beloved animated characters.

“This may sound corny to any reasonably intelligent person,” Dunagan said. “I would not have made it as a very young first sergeant, a CWO gunner, a regular line lieutenant, company commander or field-grade officer with the nickname ‘Bambi.’

“I would have been history. I told myself back then, ‘Dunagan, that’s long ago. Nobody knows. Nobody needs to know. Nobody probably even cares