The Charest-Frenchette Family in America: A Success Story
Editors Note: Shortly before my father had his stroke which ultimately was fatal, I managed to convince him to write some stories and family history. I promised him I would get them at least published on a family website if he did. Well, with a lot of “encouragement” from myself and possibly my brother Howard, Dad did write some of the family stories.
I have taken the liberty of re-formatting Dad’s writings to be suitable for this website. Otherwise, I have posted them as written. I may on occasion add some editorial comments of my own; these will be clearly marked when I do.
Part II – The Pacific Engagements
Armand ships out for the South Pacific and Combat Action…
I reported to Texas in late August of 1943 for seventeen weeks of basic infantry training. It was rough going at first, especially the long hikes over dusty Texas roads. But soon enough I became accustomed to the daily routine of exercise, training and close-order marching. I gained twenty-five pounds and grew three inches in height.
In December I received leave and I spent Christmas with the family in Rhode Island. My father accompanied me to the train taking me back to the war. I knew instinctively that I would not see him again.
I reported to the San Francisco area from where I shipped out to Australia in January of 1944. I joined the 41st Division, a division made up primarily of National Guardsmen from the states of Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana, in the city of Rockhampton in the part of the country called Queensland. I discovered Australia to be a friendly one whose inhabitants were very grateful for the Americans’ presence. I had spent a few days at a camp outside the large city of Brisbane. We were not allowed to visit the city without a pass, which was never given.
So we found a way out of camp through what we called the Burma Road and checked out the city, making sure we avoided the MPs. We then traveled to Rockhampton by rail, a trip that took several days as we moved through the empty outback country. At the end of
January, by which time we had acclimated to the hot weather, the division sailed for New Guinea, a strange world inhabited by strange but gentlepeople. We were stationed at a place called Lae, the departure town for the famous aviatrix, Amelia Earhart who later disappeared over the Pacific and has never been found
On April 27, we landed at Hollandia, just inside the Dutch part of the island. There was not much fighting because the Japanese troops fled into interior, leaving us much food and tea, hot tea. The next landing occurred on May the 27th and that is where my military experiences really began. For many years I had put the whole war behind me but a small boy brought it all back one day. I wish to explain to my descendants the pain, horror and destruction of war as well as the bravery, courage and devotion to duty of all participants, on both sides of the war.