Armand Comes Home From the War…and His parting Words
We all returned from the war and settled down raising families. There was a big and warm welcome party for me. I had been gone for two long years. I still remember the voyage home in a big lumbering navy transport. We docked in San Francisco with a brass band on the pier and ladies from the Salvation Army handing out coffee and donuts. We proceeded to camp aboard a ferry through the bay with another big band on board. The first meal at midnight consisted of steak along with all the milk we could drink; it was the first taste of milk in two years! We traveled to Mass. in a special train to be discharged. Mine came on January 20, 1946. The war was really over.
Alphonse Charest died in January 1945; Emilie Charest followed him in October 1957. Some children of the next generation followed us into the service: Roger Forbes served in Germany; two of Theresa’s boys served in the Marines. My oldest son, Ronald, served in the navy for 22 years retiring as a Senior Chief, the top rank among enlisted personnel. A son-in-Lazslo Fodor served in the army in Germany. The oldest of the nine Charest children died in 1994. At this time the remaining eight are still in relatively good health. Some of the grandchildren have married and are raising families of their own. And life goes on, one generation following another. I have placed our ancestors on a family tree, hoping that those who follow think of them once in a while.
In 1954 I met Miss Martha Wilkens in New York, the only child of hardworking German immigrants, at a dance in the local YMCA of all places. We had four great children and twenty years of a good marriage. I had moved to the New York area in early 1951 to search for work. I intended to pick up a few dollars and then to move on to Calif. As it turned out I stayed for 25 years.
I retired in 1987 and I then toured to country for four months. I saw beautiful scenery and then I met Joe the Greek. I had heard while overseas that a shadowy figure somewhere in the division had the moonshine (again) concession. He sold the stuff at $5.00 per gallon. Nobody really knew who he was. On my trip I happened to have been in Western Montana on Labor Day weekend. I noticed a sign in the local motel advertising the meeting of the 41 St Division survivors. I took what was possibly the last available room in town. As stepped out of my room I encountered an ex-soldier. You guessed it. It was Joe the Greek!!! We had many laughs during those few days. One night got drunk on liquor and old stories. I looked for men of E Company. None showed up. It was the final chapter and the last roundup.
It has been a generally good life for the Charest family. Tragedies have been few and far between. We were all blessed with good genes from Alphonse and Emilie. May the good times roll on for all of us!