Giving thanks for a hero: Michaud fought in WWII, Korean War
Updated: Jan 8
Daughter honors her Dad’s World War II valor
By Noelle Blake
Special to Today Magazine
2020 marks the 75th anniversary of V-J Day — Victory over Japan Day, which officially ended World War II, took place in August 1945. To honor those who fought bravely and sacrificed greatly, Today Magazine has interviewed Simsbury resident Cynthia Crouch about her father Olivin “Ollie” Michaud, a longtime Avon resident who died May 21 at age 90, and his experience as a WWII veteran.
Ollie Michaud was born in Saint Francis, Maine, and grew up alongside four brothers and two sisters. When he was old enough “he jumped at the opportunity” to enlist in the Army, according to Cynthia, serving with his four brothers — “and all volunteered.”
At the remarkable age of 15, he enlisted for World War II on July 21,1944 and served until Sept. 2, 1945. He also served in the Korean War from September 1950 until its end in '53. During WWII, he was stationed at the U.S. Army Garrison in Ansbach, Germany and in Normandy, France. As a corporal, he led his men with fierce resolve.
“My father was so proud to serve his country,” Cynthia says. “He would always say how honored he felt to serve his country.”
When V-J Day was announced in August 1945, he was in Germany with fellow troops outside a café — victory in Europe (V-E Day) had been achieved in May 1945. Cynthia provides insight about her father’s WWII service in a wide-ranging Q&A:
What was your father's reaction to winning WWII?
My father reported, “It was a day like no other. People were wandering the streets celebrating, singing, screaming with joy!” When President Harry Truman announced Japan had surrendered unconditionally and the war was over, my father said he felt “liberated.” Although there were so many casualties, including several soldiers in his unit, he had a long life in front of him.
What was his life like after World War II?
After the war, he remembers thanking God, who led him through the war, keeping him safe and not wounded. Although he did contract tuberculosis during the war and was hospitalized, he was grateful to be alive. During the war, my father’s grandmother passed away. My father wanted to send his brother back to the U.S. [for the funeral]. However, my father’s sergeant major told my Dad that he was required to go since he was a higher-ranking officer. My father was not happy about this.
While my father attended his grandmother’s funeral, word came that my father’s brother was killed. My father lived with that guilt his entire life. He blamed himself for not being there to protect him.
Dad said that upon his return from the war, they were not provided with the welcome he thought they deserved after being in a war that protected the freedom we all take for granted. He referred to how Vietnam vets were treated when they returned. He said that he was just thankful to be home and to be with his family, including his other brothers who served in the war with him.
What do you think your father would say to future troops?
I believe he would say: “My future troops, by joining to serve in the military, you have made one of the most important life-altering decisions anyone can make. Whether you felt a call to serve and protect your country from terrorism, want to learn a trade, need financial help for your education, or want to improve yourself, you have chosen a path that will change your life forever. You will learn different skills that will help you in whatever you choose to do in life. For example, you will learn leadership skills, how to be flexible, and how to adapt to different situations. You will learn the meaning of duty, honor, respect and integrity. Regardless of the military branch you have chosen, as a two-war veteran, I am proud of all of you. Don’t forget to bring along a can-do positive attitude, follow the rules, and lead by example. May God bless you all and may God bless America.”
When people learned about your father's service, how often did they call him a hero? How did he feel about this?
My father was a true war hero. As soon as he was old enough, he jumped at the opportunity and volunteered to join the Army. He enlisted in two wars without hesitation. My father was admired for his bravery. Everyone who knew Dad considered him a war hero. He was a modest man and called all who were in the war heroes for their service to their country, especially the fallen heroes. They sacrificed their lives being on the front line and didn’t make it home to their families. He would say, “Now those were war heroes.” That is how my father was, always putting others before himself.
My father was a true war hero ... He enlisted in two wars without hesitation
What qualities do you appreciate most about your father?
My father was the kindest, most loving father, grandfather and friend to all. I was born on his birthday and perhaps that is why we had such a special bond. As much as he loved being a father, Dad had no greater joy than being a grandfather to Arianna and Albert Innarelli. He was not only their “Pepere” (grandfather in French), but he took on this role with all their friends. He was well-known in Simsbury as Pepere.
My father provided his children things that cannot be taught in school. He was wise beyond his years, and instilled values in his children to always be kind, loving and respectful regardless of how you are being treated and to pray to God daily. He also told us it was important to never forget where you came from. He touched the lives of all he met, whether family, friends or complete strangers. He never spoke a bad word about anyone, and always looked for ways to brighten other people’s days. He was known around the community as an honorable, loving and helpful man.
I admire and love him beyond words. The values he instilled in me helped me to bring up two wonderful children who embrace his values. He was the patriarch of our entire family. Dad, you are my hero for all of the above reasons. I am proud to call you my father. Your legacy will live on forever. +
This article originally appeared in the August 2020 edition of Today Magazine — both the print and digital editions
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