Veterans remember: Dartmouth man looks back on service

Nov 11, 2020

Honore Bessette is a veteran who claims he isn’t a veteran.

“I never went to Korea,” he said. “They sent me to Japan instead.”

While modestly downplaying his own service, Bessette was quick to point to the many other war veterans he believes should be honored in his place.

“We’ve got all these guys that went to Vietnam — I call them heroes,” he said.

Bessette was just 17 when he joined the Marine Corps and shipped out to Asia during the Korean War. 

“My mother, she worked hard all her life,” he said. “She was supporting me and my kid brother. She had to support the three of us.”

So he made the decision to join the military to make her life easier, sending money back home as much as he could.

“It was one of those family things where you want to help out,” he explained.

The Fall River native spent much of his three years of service running exercises and maneuvers as an artilleryman stationed at the base of Mount Fuji.

“It was cold when we got there,” he remembered, adding that he took classes in Yokohama and spent much of his time on maneuvers, where he and his compatriots practiced with a variety of big guns — each of which took several people to operate.

“It’s like football,” Bessette said. “You gotta practice practice practice!”

The Dartmouth resident noted that he enjoyed traveling with the corps. 

“I’ve seen a lot,” he said, describing how he cruised the Mediterranean visiting Europe and Africa. “I like to travel...I always volunteered to travel with the Marine Corps.”

But he said that his favorite part of his service was after he made sergeant. 

“I didn’t have to work as hard as when I was a private,” he said. “And you don’t have to stand in chow lines...they had to bring the food to me!”

When he returned home, he got married — twice — and ended up moving first to Westport and then to Dartmouth, where he’s lived for forty years.

But some things never change. “Once you’re a marine you’re always a marine,” he said.