More detail on this person: Joseph Samuel Bouchard of Missoula, 75, retired commander, U.S.
Navy, passed away Wednesday, March 12, 2003, at St. Patrick Hospital.
Joe was born Aug. 8, 1927, to Joseph A. and Cynthia 3Toots˛ Bouchard in Missoula and raised in Bonner. He attended Bonner Elementary School and graduated from Missoula County High School in 1944.
In August 1944, he enlisted in the Navy and served as a gunner1s mate on the USS LST 810 in the Pacific during World War II. After the war, Joe converted to aviation metalsmith. From March 1948 to December 1949, he was stationed at a Navy airfield near Shanghai, China. He participated in the evacuation of Americans from Manchuria and other areas in China during the Chinese Civil War. From 1950 to 1956, Joe served in various Navy transport aircraft squadrons and participated in the Korean War.
In January 1952, Joe married Grace Ellen Hanson of Redstone. From 1952 to 1957, they were stationed in Pensacola, Fla., and Hutchinson, Kan. In 1957, they were transferred to Moffett Field, Calif., where Joe was promoted to ensign as an aviation maintenance officer.
From 1958 to 1967, they were stationed in Brunswick, Maine; Quonset Point, R.I.; Jacksonville, Fla.; and again in Quonset Point. During these tours, Joe served as maintenance officer in Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron 11 and as officer in charge of the naval aviation radiography school.
In April 1967, Joe was assigned to Helicopter Attack Squadron (light) III (the Seawolves) in Vinh Long, Vietnam. He earned a battlefield promotion to lieutenant commander and was awarded the Bronze Star medal with a combat 3V˛ for valor during the Tet offensive in February 1968.
On the first night of the Tet offensive, Joe, with only two men, defended a Catholic orphanage with 130 children and eight nuns from Viet Cong attack until they could be evacuated the next day.
In June 1968, Joe returned from Vietnam to duty on the Commander Naval Air Force Pacific Fleet staff in San Diego. From 1970 to 1973, he was assigned to Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron I in Atsugi, Japan, and Agana, Guam. During this tour, he was promoted to commander.
His final assignment on active duty was as aircraft maintenance officer at the Pacific Missile Test Center, Naval Air Station, Point Mugu, Calif. He retired from the Navy on May 31, 1976, with 32 years active service.
Joe returned to Missoula and served from 1977 to 1982 as a Missoula County Deputy Sheriff. He later worked for several years at the The Hunting Shack in Missoula.
Joe was a member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and the Warrior Society. He was a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion and was active in veterans affairs.
He was an avid hunter, fisherman, gun and cartridge collector and reloader. He was a member of the National Rifle Association. He was a supporter of the Museum of Mountain Flying and the Fort Missoula Historical Museum.
Joe is survived by his son, Joseph F. Bouchard, captain, U.S. Navy, wife, Rita, and daughter, Ellen, of Washington, D.C.; his son, Daniel J. Bouchard, fiancee, Jackie, and son, Evan, of Atlanta; his daughter, Cynthia Christina, husband, Wallace, and children, Tara and Michael, of Missoula; his brother, Charles Patrick Bouchard of Polson; his brother, John Sandford Bouchard of West Linn, Ore.; and numerous nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Grace, and his brother, Michael, a Navy pilot who was shot down and declared missing in action in 1968.
A graveside service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at St. Mary1s Cemetery in Missoula. A memorial service will be scheduled at a later date.
Burial information: St. Mary1s Cemetery, Missoula
This information was last updated 05/18/2016
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Date posted on this site: 09/05/2022
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