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*83rd Infantry Division * Normandy * Brittany * Ardennes * Rhineland *  Central Europe * 83rd Infantry Division *

 

    Rolland Joseph Gustave Despres is the man that started this project, and to tell his story I must also tell the the story of the 83rd infantry division. On Memorial Day weekend 2000 my family had reunited for my sisterís long anticipated wedding. All of my relatives were visiting my family in Virginia Beach. On Sunday my Uncle Rainey Grenier and his wife Barbara were over our house for a barbecue. The weather was lousy, it had rained all weekend long. So we had dinner inside the house. After dinner my uncle, my father, and myself were sitting around the breakfast bar. The conversation drifted to the military due to my active duty service. I donít remember exactly how it all started but the discussion focused on Rolland and our other two uncles, Leo and Freddie Dionne, who I didnít even know. The conversation focused on what they all did during World War II. Neither men knew what division Uncle Rolland was in. All either one knew was that Rolland landed at Normandy, Freddie was in the Army, and Leo the Navy. Rolland was my Great Uncle and my fatherís favorite uncle. So, before I knew it I volunteered to find out what these men did during the war. However, what started out as research on one man, quickly blossomed into a family wide genealogy research project.

    Rolland Despres was my fatherís favorite uncle, he was his mothers brother and they were very close, so my father used to tell me stories when I was a young boy of the heroic Uncle who was a Sergeant in the Army, and how he had landed at Normandy during World War II. How he fought in France as a machine gunner, getting captured twice, escaping both times