by Roger Chartier:New Bedford, Ma. 4/30/2011 - last edited 8/06/ 2015
Normand O. Chartier, a WW2 veteran, had plenty of energy still at 92 years old to spend his Monday afternoons helping people and telling the stories that are behind the many photos and exhibitions of military objects at New Bedford's Fort Rodman / Fort Taber Historical Association Museum at Clark's Point in New Bedford's south end.
Normand told us " Everyone who works there is a volunteer".
He informed us that, "The museum is open every day from 1PM to 4PM, and I spend my time there guiding people through the exhibitions and creating good relationships with people from all around the world who pass through the museum."
He answered a lot of questions, as well.
Normand explained "We have photos and displays of objects from the civil war era and all of the wars since then." He said all of the branches of the military are represented."
I asked about his co-volunteers, and he told me, "The museum is staffed by 4 volunteers a day as well as a secretary and historian who is responsible for cataloguing the items that are donated or lent for display".
He is one of the two volunteers from WW2, and the others are mostly ex military from more current eras.
The museum opened in August of 2004 and has grown rapidly. Normand told us " They had to build an addition on the building because we were expanding so fast."
Normand was a medic in WW2 starting out at a hospital in southern England and then at a hospital in France then ended up in a night raider platoon in advance of American Troops during the Battle of the Bulge etc. He spend that winter living in the snow for the most part and took airports etc from the Germans and drove them out of the town of Chartres in France.
See more info about Normand Chartier and his volunteer work for the Exercise Tiger Memorial. For more information visit www.forttaber.org
When he returned from WW2 he wanted to go to nursing school but St Lukes had only facilities for females to learn nursing.
So he went to work for the next 45 years for the Acushnet Rubber Company as the leader for a small group. He ran a calendar machine.
Normand has spent a lot of his life working at that and other full time jobs and often at a part time job as well as volunteering at many different facilities and for organizations.
Normand was involved in Troop 5 at Sacred Heart Church as a Boy Scout Master for 20 years and was in scouting for more than 50 years. He kept on with the organization afterwards as well.
In scouting he earned the Silver Beaver Award, the St George's Award, the Wood Badge Award for training in scouting as a scoutmaster. He attended the 1960 Boy Scout Jamboree in Colorado Springs, Colorado and led two 12 day backpacking expeditions through the 214 square mile Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico in 1965 and 1966.
In the early 1950's Troop 5 camped at Jack Steele's on Chace Road in Dartmouth.
In 1955 through the Cachalot Council for the Boy Scouts he acquired the rights to use Abner Pond in Carver, Ma for Troop 5 camping. It was the only troop or campers using the pond and the water was extremely clean as no out board motors or any pollution got into the 63 foot deep pond.
The scouts did land management there and stopped erosion etc., as part of their "Thank You " to the Scout Council for the land.
An outsider started a massive forest fire on May 25, 1964 that destroyed nearby Camp Cachalot but missed Troop 5's Abner Pond Camping area.
During the fire Troop 5 and 300 other scouts were on Camp Cachalot land having a Jamboree. Normand organized an evacuation, and in a half an hour of all of the scouts where gone. The state police came looking to save the scouts but they were already on their way home.
We felt lucky that the fire had missed the Troop 5 camping site until three days later. Roots that had been smoldering brought a huge fire that destroyed the Abner Pond Camping area. We lost a trailer with camping tents, etc for 67 scouts.
He had saved several peoples lives during his life. He once saved a boy who had drowned by using CPR and not giving up. The boy was very moved and never forgot Mr. Chartier's deed.
He volunteered between his regular job hours with the Alden Ambulance Corps as a medic and driver until the organization closed.
Normand volunteered at the Sacred Heart Nursing home on a regular basis. He did so until he was 91 years old and had to quit when his legs didn't carry him well enough to do the job.
He was a member of the Knights of Columbus for years.
He still volunteered with giving food to the poor with the Church until his death. He brough Holy Communion to people who could not get to church and in the nursing home.
Normand did a lot for other people, and asked nothing for himself.
Normand didn't rest as much as he should have, but you couldn't stop him from helping people whom he thought were in distress or could use a hand.