By: John Cuddy – October 2o21
A native of Lawrence, Arthur Goulet attended St Anne’s Grammar School and graduated from Lawrence High School with the class of 1955. Shortly after graduating from high school, he joined the United States Navy. He completed basic military training at the United States Navy Training Center in Port Deposit, Maryland, more commonly known in the fleet at the time as the United States Naval Training Center in Bainbridge. The center closed in 1976.
Arthur served in the US Navy construction battalions, the Seabees. He served six years in active service and twenty-four years in the Naval Reserve. He was assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion One based in Davisville, Rhode Island and Naval Mobile Construction Battalion Twenty-Seven, based at Naval Air Station in Brunswick, Maine.
During our interview at Sunnyside Diner, on Broadway in Lawrence, a few blocks from the Franco American Veterans Post 1, now closed, of which Arthur is a former Post Commander, Arthur recounts his “icy” trips with the US Navy . Arthur’s service to our nation took him to Naval Base Argentia Newfoundland, US Air Force Base Thule, Greenland Air Force Base, where he was posted to Camp Century and Camp Tuto. , which was operated by the US military. He was also posted to Fort Wainwright, Alaska, near Fairbanks, Alaska. Arthur’s coldest tour was Operation Deep Freeze at McMurdo Station in Antarctica.
Arthur also served at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba during the height of the “Cold War”, giving him first-hand insight into the unfolding of events now known as the Cuban Missile Crisis. He was there when the commander of the US naval base closed travel to and from Cuba. This happened during the end of the Cuban Revolution, Communist forces captured twenty-nine US Navy sailors who were at large in the two towns outside the naval base.
The sailors were taken prisoner on June 27, 1958 by rebel soldiers, led by Raúl Castro, brother of revolutionary leader Fidel Castro. The last of the sailors was released on July 18, 1958. The leadership of the US Navy then placed all Cuban territory outside the base fence line, as prohibited to US personnel, the commander issued the order on January 1, 1959, was the same day that the Cuban government of Fulgencio Batista collapsed.
One of the most interesting stories he told me was being “stranded” in Christ Church, New Zealand, with another sailor for about a month. He was posted to McMurdo Station, awaiting travel orders, and he and the other sailor were accommodated in an apartment with a shared car. With no assigned military duties, they simply registered with the US Navy once a day, spending the rest of their time roaming the city. Arthur found a pub full of “locals”, off the beaten track, outside the tourist areas, and bought “a drink round” for the locals. In this hole-in-the-wall pub, he noticed that local women were not allowed by law or custom to sit at the bar.
All the young (and old) ladies in the pub were seated at tables everywhere, but never at the bar itself. He remembers walking the main streets of Christ Church and seeing people watching television through store windows. Arthur remembers seeing people doing the same thing on Essex Street in Lawrence when he was young.
While in Antarctica, one of the many construction equipment Arthur used was the Peter Snow Miller. The Peter Snow Miller was used to dig tunnels for the construction of the new Byrd Station, during Operation Deep Freeze in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Arthur and the Seabees were trained in the Using the Peter Snow Miller, Alaska, before being sent to Antarctica, the machine was essentially a Swiss snowplow originally used to clear roads in the Alps. Arthur and the Seabees got to work and used the machine to treat the snow and work it to the firmness needed to support building construction in Antarctica. This machine also served as a dual-purpose, used by the Seabees to cut a trench for utility and sewer lines.
Detachment Twenty-Seven of the Arthur’s Mobile Shipbuilding Battalion was based at the US Military Reserve Center in Lawrence, now the site of Lawrence High School in South Lawrence. He vividly remembers standing in line with hundreds of reservists, from all branches of the US military, to search the woods surrounding the center for a young Lawrence, Andy Puglisi, who disappeared from the public pool. located behind the reserve center on August 21. 1976. Arthur remembers Andy’s father was himself a reservist.
While serving in the U.S. Navy Reserves, Arthur also worked as a Grader Operator and Dump Truck Driver for LD Boddy, where he built roads in Bellevue Cemetery and worked on the construction of Route 495, which is part of the Eisenhower Interstate system. Later in his career, he worked as a switch operator at Malden Mills, moving trailers throughout the complex. Eighty-two at a young age, Arthur is still active in the local veterans community, Arthur and fellow US Navy Seabee from Dracut, Mass., Bob Berube, often attend “mini-meetings.” »Soldiers who served together in Antarctica.
He fondly remembers the vibrant French-Canadian culture that existed in Lawrence in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. A culture based at the Sainte-Anne and Sacré-Cœur churches, with cultural events at the French Social Club, at the Franco- American Veterans Post and at the LaSalle Club. Arthur and his wife Irene have been married for fifty-six years and were married at St. Mary’s Church, mostly Irish, to Irene. The couple have a son and daughter, both of whom attended Lawrence High and performed in the school orchestra. Irene and Arthur now have four grandchildren.
Arthur dedicated thirty years of his life to serving our nation in the US Navy Seabees and fifty-six years (and more) to his wife and family, making him a “hero among us.”
The American Dracut Legion is asking all WWII, Korean War and Vietnam War veterans to call (603) 518-5368 and register for an honor flight to the memorials in Washington DC! Veterans of all ages are encouraged to visit the American Legion website www.legion.org and join the American Legion, preserving our benefits for Veterans for future generations.
John Cuddy served in the US Navy Construction Battalions (also known as Seabees) after retiring from the US Navy; he received a bachelor’s degree in history and a master’s degree in economics from the University of Massachusetts on the Lowell campus. He has worked in logistics at FedEx for 25 years. If you know of a WWII, Korean War or Vietnam veteran who would like their story told, please email them at [email protected] ??