War veteran is honored at home

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PARIS – Alcide “Buster” Gallant, formerly of the Rumford area, was honored as Veteran of the Month at the Maine Veterans’ Home in Paris recently.

A World War II veteran, Gallant enlisted in the Army on Aug. 2, 1940. Serving with the 1st Cavalry, a heavy armored division that came into being in 1920, he saw combat in the southwest Pacific, a group of coral islands called Dutch East Indies.

The war in Asia and the Pacific began when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, and ended with the Allied bombing of Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, and Japan’s surrender nine days later. It was the largest area of conflict in history.

A truck driver prior to the war, Gallant became a tank mechanic and driver, earning a T/4 rating. Commenting on being a mechanic during combat, he said, “As a mechanic, you’re outside the tank and can get shot.”

Gallant tells of enemy snipers tying themselves up in the coconut trees. During such an encounter, the failure of the tank commander to shoot a sniper resulted in Gallant’s tank being hit. He was severely wounded and others were killed.

Gallant received the Purple Heart (for being wounded in a war) and the Silver Star (for gallantry in action against an opposing armed force). The Silver Star ranks third on the list of U.S. combat medals of World War II. The Medal of Honor and the Distinguished Service Cross rank first and second.

After his discharge on Nov. 27, 1944, Gallant did some flying, received training in refrigeration and worked for the Oxford Paper Co. He put his mechanical skills to work as a race car mechanic for driver Art Cyr.

Gallant also had a band, playing guitar and organ. He has been active in the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Just recently, he sold his Harley Davidson motorcycle, another passion. Along with other residents, results of Gallant’s “green thumb” can be seen around the outside patio.

Having spent most of his life in the Rumford area, Gallant is a resident of the A unit.

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