The two former U.S. servicemen, who were behind bars for 13 days until their release on bail, appeared Ennis District Court last week accused of a security breach and criminal damage at Shannon Airport on St. Patrick’s Day.

Ken Mayers, 82, and Tarak Kauff, 77, have spoken about being treated like celebrities during their time in Limerick Prison.

Mayers, of Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Kauff, of Woodstock, New York, are part of an anti-war group of former U.S. servicemen and servicewomen.

Their combined $5,600 (€5,000) bail was paid by anti-war campaigner Ed Horgan, a former Army commandant and UN peacekeeper.

They told The Irish Times of being warmly welcomed by “prisoners and guards” and said that their jail time was “surprisingly humane.”

Their cell contained a double-decker bunk, a sink, a counter-desk, two plastic chairs, a TV set, and a toilet that worked only when flushed with a bucket of water.

They stayed in C block away from murderers and violent criminals, and they befriended a number of other prisoners.

Read more: Two elderly US vets arrested at Shannon in anti-war protest

Kauff said, “One fella, a really nice person, had been caught with a machine gun. Some of the younger fellas were in there for stealing cars, some were in there for drugs and being caught with heroin, armed robbery things like that.

“But I want to say, these were not bad human beings – these were human beings who need another chance.”

Kauff added that he told the inmates that they needed to stick together and needed to organize, for example, things like the toilet. He said, “They should have clean toilets; they’re human beings.”

The two are charged with causing $2,800 (€2,500) worth of criminal damage to the airport perimeter fence at Shannon and unlawful trespass into a taxi-way at the airport on March 17 when they were spotted crossing a runway on their way to inspect a military aircraft which they believed was carrying soldiers and munitions to the Middle East.

Their bailsman, Horgan, an Irish Veterans for Peace spokesman, has said, “The Irish government continually say we are a neutral country but under the international oath of neutrality we must not allow troops and munitions to pass through our territory on their way to war.”

At an earlier hearing, the court was told that Mayers served twelve years in the U.S. Marine Corps and Kauff was a paratrooper in the U.S. Army during the early 1960s. Judge Marie Keane has told them they face “very serious charges.”

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