Roland St. Amour | MVH South Paris Veteran Stories | U.S. Army

Author: MVH South Paris
Posted: April 24, 2019
Category: Maine Veterans of the Month

Roland St. Amour was drafted to the U.S. Army at the age of 19 in January 1943.  He attended basic training at the Army Mobilization Training Camp in Texas.  He later was sent to a training camp in North Carolina for commando training. Following training Roland was sent to Georgia to await departure on the ship Queen Mary heading to England for pre-invasion training.

Roland was being prepared for the Normandy Invasion.  He was trained as a gunner for the 3rd Armored "Spearhead" division which was attached to the 486th Armored Anti-Aircraft Battalion.  Roland recalls being on a boat heading to Omaha beach and a sailor
Roland St. Amour US Army 1943 to 1945-1
Roland St. Amour, US Army, 1943
giving him a bunk and gun.  He said "you will need it when you get down there.  Get a good night’s sleep."  The battalion landed on Omaha beach in June 1944.  Roland recollects lots of rifle fire and shooting down quite a few German airplanes.  He recalls their anti-aircraft tanks came in and opened up the hedgerow.  From here they moved on to Cologne where all night you could hear the planes dropping bombs.  They were heading to relieve the infantry at the Siege of Bastogne in Belgium. 

The main objective of the 3rd Armored "Spearhead" division was to always be in front of the infantry which they did all the way to Berlin.  In April 1945, the 3rd armored division discovered the Dora-Mittelbau concentration camp and liberated 250 ill and starving prisoners.  Roland can still picture the big ovens and visualizes the people being skin and bones and the dead bodies strewn about.  By the time Roland was honorably discharged from the Army in December 1945, he had spent two years in active combat, having fought in five campaigns in Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes-Alsace and Central Europe.  Roland feels very lucky to have made it through the war with only some loss of hearing in his right ear from where he use to fire his rifle.  He feels he is one of the lucky ones.  He lost a lot of friends and most of the guys he was with got killed.  Roland was able to return to Germany in 1995 to visit with some of the people they had liberated from the concentration camp.  He is proud that he was still receiving mail from them even though he can't read them because they are written in German.

Following the military, Roland was employed at the Bates Mill in Lewiston as a dyer during the day and in the evenings he worked as a door to door salesman for W.T. Rawleigh Company selling health products.  Roland enjoyed meeting people and at times some had large families and he knew they couldn't afford the medicine, so he wouldn't ask them to pay.   Usually in the spring, they would pick up nickels and dimes and pay me.  Roland retired at 65 but enjoyed being around people so much he went to work at Shaw's Supermarket.  He worked there for 15 years until he needed to care for his wife who was diagnosed with dementia.  He took care of her at home for five years until it was no longer safe to.         

Roland met his wife Rena at a dance.  In July 2019 it will be 73 years they have been married.  They have four children; 3 boys and 1 girl in addition to 5 grandchildren. Roland has worked all his life and never had time to play games or travel.  He is now enjoying life at the Maine Veterans' Home in South Paris playing bingo, going out to eat, attending religious programs in addition to other social functions that he enjoys.  His biggest enjoyment is socializing.  He will tell you "I like to talk."  He especially enjoys the time he spends with his wife who now resides at MVH.

Roland came to the Maine Veterans’ Home in September 2018.  He now resides on our C unit and was recently honored in Augusta at the Remember Me Ceremony which has been hosted by the Maine Health Care Association for the last seventeen years and is a photography tribute and recognition ceremony for residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities statewide.

Roland St. Amour with (left to right-back row)  Michael St. Amour, Paul St. Amour, Leola St. Amour, Joline Colby

Thank you for your service, Roland!

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