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This is the eighth in a series about graduates from Mountain Valley High School who are serving our country in the military.
As a student at Mountain Valley High School in the Class of 2007, Petty Officer Third Class (PO3) David Bellegarde II liked to buck the system.
Wandering the halls was his specialty. In a way, those characteristics lead to his career in the U.S. Navy.
PO3 Bellegarde explained, “I was sitting in study hall and I got bored, so I wandered the halls and ended up in the guidance office. I called the Navy recruiter and asked if they had careers in firefighting. He said 'yes' and 12 hours later I was in.”
He served for five years, was honorably discharged and is now a member of the inactive reserve for three years. Most of his enlistment was spent on the U.S.S. George H. W. Bush (CVN77) out of Norfolk, Virginia.
PO3 Bellegarde recalled, “Mostly we were off the state of Florida and Virginia for training and drills. During our deployment, we stopped in England, France, Italy, Spain, Dubai and Bahrain. When we stopped in England, we were the first aircraft carriers to go there in a long time. I was one of the first off the ship and I was interviewed by English TV!”
Besides his wanderlust getting him into the navy, he had a desire to combine two loves.
“I always wanted to be in the military and I love aviation,” PO3 Bellegarde said.
He had the opportunity to combine those careers as an aviation firefighter. On the aircraft carrier deck, he and his Crash and Salvage Crew are responsible for dealing with aircraft if it has mechanical problems or is on fire. We rescue the pilot and put the fire out. We make sure the aircraft is safe for the mechanics to work on it. We also maintain all the fire equipment.”
Like all other service people, he thought a taste of home was critical during deployment.
PO3 Bellegarde explained, “Care packages are great when people are deployed. If the person doesn’t like everything, they can give it away. I had Moxie in my care package and I gave it to people from Texas. They didn’t care for it very well. Family knows the sailor better so they know what to send. But we appreciate everything.”
Meeting a familiar face is also important.
“We have our name on the back pocket of our pants,” PO3 Bellegarde recalled. “I heard someone call my name and turned around. It was (Seaman) Devin Roberts from my class at MVHS!”
Now that he is on inactive reserve, he is back in Rumford. He is a volunteer for the Rumford Fire Department.
PO3 Bellegarde said, “I work at a factory that produces medical grade plastics in Lewiston. I went for an interview. Before I was home, they called and told me not to interview with anyone else. I had the job!”
From a difficult student, he became a reliable, hard-working aviation firefighter. Now he is a human resource manager’s top choice for a job!
PO3 Bellegarde is the son of Beth and David Bellegarde Sr. of Rumford.
If you know of a MVHS alumnus who is currently serving their country or has recently finished their enlistment, please contact Donna Peare at email@example.com.