Early Life and Becoming a Soldier

Kanton Island and Postwar


Normand F. Gallichant was born in March 1921 in Danielson, Connecticut. He had four brothers. His father was a mechanic in a textile mill. Gallichant attended Catholic School. When he turned 17, he went to work for the 89th Division of CCC camp [Annotator's Note: Civilian Conservation Corps]. He learned tool and die making in school and applied that in CCC and in the service. He worked in a shop after CCC. He was drafted into the Army and sent to Fort Devens in Massachusetts for his basic training. The CCC helped prepare him for military life, training and discipline. Once he completed his basic training, he was assigned to the 389th Regiment, 98th Division [Annotator's Note: 389th Infantry Regiment, 98th Infantry Division]. He was an automatic rifleman. After nine months of training, he was sent to Oahu, Hawaii for about a year. They recovered bodies from ships that had been sunk [Annotator's Note: casualties resulting from the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on 7 December 1941]. They walked the island in their free time. He enjoyed that. He was there for two years. He learned to ballroom dance and has a certificate to prove it.


Normand F. Gallichant was preparing to hit the beaches of Japan just before the war ended. Defenses in Japan would have been deadly. The landing was called off because the war had ended. Gallichant had been based on Kanton Island, in the middle of nowhere. It was a small island shared with the British. Nothing else was on the tiny horseshoe shaped island. He had no interaction with the British. There was an airbase and harbor for food and supply receipt. He was fed alright during his service. He had CCC [Annotator's Note: Civilian Conservation Corps] camp experience which prepared him for military life. After the war, he was shipped to Japan and worked at disposal and clean-up of military weapons, equipment and supplies plus damage reparations from the big bomb [Annotator's Note: nuclear weapons dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, 6 and 9 August 1945]. It took three or four months before he had a break to have leave [Annotator's Note: an authorized absence for a short period of time] in town. The native Japanese were receptive to the Americans. He cannot complain about them. He spent seven months on Kanton Island. He was there with the 390th Division [Annotator's Note: 390th Infantry Regiment, 98th Infantry Division]. They had to take care of the island with its airstrip. He collected shells at the beach. After returning to the United States and being discharged, Gallichant returned to Danielson, Connecticut and was rehired as a tool and die maker. He had to transfer when the company moved. He married and moved to Hartford, Connecticut. When the company failed, he returned to Danielson with another tool and die company. He never used the G.I. Bill after the war because he could not use it. When he was in the CCC camps for seven months, he was concerned with going into the Army. He entered the infantry after he was inducted. He was very lucky.

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