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Michael Rocheleau

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Michael Rocheleau Obituary
Michael Joseph Rocheleau

1918 - 2013 Michael was born October 1, 1918, in Pittsfield. He was the son of the late Maurice and Ina Burlingame Rocheleau. He grew up and attended Pittsfield schools while working on T.B. Stearns' Farm, and riding his horse, Molly, to school.

At the age of 17, he entered the National Guard, Company I - 104th Infantry, 26th Division. He earned honors as an expert rifleman, winning the regimental title with a 30-06 Springfield. He also was a sharpshooter with a Browning automatic, and a marksman with a pistol. In 1941, he enlisted in the Army being inducted in Springfield. In 1943, he was transferred to Columbia, S.C., into the 5th Air Force, 498th Bomb Squadron. He was sent overseas from Hawaii to the Asiatic Pacific Operations Theatre. During the war years, Michael was a turret gunner on a B25 Mitchell Strafer Bomber. He earned his Aviation Badge in 1944, was promoted to Staff Sergeant, and held the position of Chief Gunner for his squadron. He served in New Guinea, Bismarck Archipelago, and the Southern Philippines. He was wounded and awarded the Purple Heart when his plane was shot down and forced landed on Jefferson Isle. All in all, he flew 50 combat missions. Along with the Purple Heart, he was decorated with the Good Conduct Medal, Air Medal with 1 Oak Cluster, The Philippine Liberation Medal with a Bronze Star, the Asiatic Pacific Theater Campaign Ribbon with 3 Service Stars, and The American Defense Service Medal. He was honorably discharged from Fort Devens, MA., and married Dorothy Jenne on May 12, 1945.

He held jobs at Eaton Paper Company where his name remains on a marker in front of the Eagle Towers, and General Electric, where he worked as a mason's helper. He spent most of his career in the Pittsfield Fire Department at Central Station as a firefighter and drove the pumper truck, the hook and ladder, and at different times in his career, the chief and deputy chief.

A lifetime member of the VFW, and a longtime supporter for the paralyzed and Disabled Veterans, he was also a chartered member of the World War II Museum in New Orleans, and the Washington D.C., World War II Memorial.

He loved baseball and was a loyal Red Sox fan.

Michael was a humble man who never really understood how he touched other people's lives in simple but gracious ways. He was a kind man, a loving father, grandfather, and great-grandfather. Many, who were not family, knew him and loved him as "Uncle Mike."

Michael is now happily reunited with his loving wife, Dorothy Jenne who passed away July 20, 1990.

He leaves his love, courage and strength to his son, Richard Rocheleau, and his wife, Vittoria and his daughter, Jean Robertson and her husband, John. He leaves cherished memories to his grandchildren, Michelle Latimer and her husband, Marc, Lisa Rogers and her husband, Mark, Sean Robertson and his wife, Kim (Chappell) Robertson, and Jenne Robertson. He leaves special hugs to his great-grandchildren, Alyssa and Cody Latimer, and Lauryn and Abigail Rogers. He also leaves his sister-in-law, Sally Rocheleau, and many nieces, nephews, and cousins.

He also leaves much love and gratitude to his niece and nephew Linda and Bernie Avalle for their special weekends together, and many other family members who visited and kept in touch.

Michael was predeceased by his two brothers, Maurice Rocheleau of Becket and Joseph Rocheleau of Old Towne Maine, and a sister Margaret.

FUNERAL NOTICE: Funeral services for Michael J. Rocheleau of Pittsfield who died June 5, 2013, will be held Tuesday at 10 a.m. at the DERY FUNERAL HOME in Pittsfield conducted by the Rev. Joel Huntington, pastor of South Congregational Church.

Burial with Military Honors will follow in St. Joseph Cemetery. Calling hours will be held Monday from 4 to 7 p.m. at the DERY FUNERAL HOME.

Memorial donations in memory of Mike may be made to the James Callahan Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter #65 or to the World War II Museum both in care of the funeral home, 54 Bradford Street, Pittsfield, MA 01201.



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Published in The Berkshire Eagle on June 9, 2013
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