Retirement Marks End of an Era

by Petty Officer 3rd Class Mario Romero
HOUSTON -Thirty years can be a lifetime, especially in the military. At 20 years, most military members consider it a career. Robert Boucher’s retirement in September 2007 marked a mile-stone for his family. Though he had served 22 years, together they had served a lifetime in the military.

Robert’s eldest brother joined the Coast Guard 30 years ago, and since that day there has been at least one Boucher in the Coast Guard. As Robert prepared to retire, he and his family gathered to remember the past.

Paul H. Boucher, the eldest, was the first to join the Coast Guard, in May 1978. He became a cook and advanced to the rank of Senior Chief Petty Officer. He met his wife Jane while serving in Maine, and they were married in September 1982. When Paul retired in August 1998, they moved to Oakland, Maine.

“It was Paul’s decision to join,” said Paul W. Boucher, the father of the five siblings. “We never pushed him. I thought he made a real good deal in joining. We didn’t know exactly what he was doing each day, but he was credited properly. And he enjoyed his work, which is very important.”

Leo Boucher came next, joining in June 1979. He was also a cook and advanced to rank of Chief Petty Officer. In May 1995, Leo left the Coast Guard and now lives in Palmer, Mass.

“When Leo joined the Coast Guard, there weren’t too many jobs around,” Paul W. recalled. “Paul was enjoying his work in the Coast Guard, and since there wasn’t too much in this little town here, Leo joined too.”

Mary Boucher, the only daughter to join, enlisted in June 1980 and became a yeoman. She found her husband Ron Holzinger, who was also in the Coast Guard, during a tour at Governor’s Island, N.Y., and they were married in 1983. Mary left the Coast Guard as a Petty Officer 3rd Class in 1985; Ron remained in for another 20 years. They now live in Sunrise, Fla.

“My total experience in the Coast Guard has given many gifts,” said Mary. “I met my husband and we have two children who are now in their college years. It has allowed us to travel across the United States and see things that we probably would have never seen otherwise. It has given us many friends. The Coast Guard means a lot to me, and I am proud to have joined.”

Robert Boucher joined October 1985 to become the fourth Boucher in the service. He became a Boatswains Mate, working on aids to navigation boats, rescue boats, and ships. He met Mary McGuire while working at Station Freeport, Texas, in December 2004, and they were married two years later, in July 2006.

“As a boarding officer at Station Fort Macon, Atlantic Beach, N.C., I wanted to make a difference,” Robert remembered. “I started a program where I would give a child a lollipop if they could show me that they knew how to put their life jacket on and they wore it. I figured if we wanted to make an impact on some one that we boarded it would be the kids.”

Bernie Boucher became the last Boucher to enlist, joining in July 1986 and went on to become a mechanical engineer. He met his wife while on his first tour at Cheboygan, Mich., and they were married in July, 1989. Bernie retired as a Chief Petty Officer in August 2006. He and his wife settled in Cheboygan.

“Bernie really enjoyed his work in the Coast Guard as an engineer,” recalled Robert. “He worked on the old cutter Mackinaw, and was part of the crew when the new one was commissioned. We were never stationed together, but if I had ever needed an engineer for my boat, he would have been the first one I would pick.”

Paul W. and Martha, the parents of the five Coast Guardsmen, never joined the military; they lived their lives in Clifton Forge, Va., a small town near the border of Virginia and West Virginia. But through their children they served for thirty years, watching their sons and daughter deploy around the country. In 2004, the Coast Guard honored Paul W. and Martha for their “service by proxy,” presenting them with a public service award. “Through thousands of miles and decades of separation, you have maintained that closeness and cohesiveness that bonds all of us together as a ‘Coast Guard family’,” read their certificate.

The 30-year era of the Boucher’s came to an end on Sept. 19, 2007, when Robert retired as a Petty Officer 1st Class. The retirement ceremony was held in Freeport, Texas, Robert’s last station. The day was bright, and the sun shining off the water gave it a golden glow. Robert’s parents sat next to his wife and two daughters. His mother-in-law and his brother-in-law were also there. At the end of the ceremony, Robert took to the podium and addressed the crew that he was leaving.

“With my retirement, I will be the last of my family to get out of the service,” said Robert. “Three decades have passed in which at least one member of my family was in the Coast Guard. An era is ending for my family. One that I feel is a major accomplishment for my, or any, family.”

Thirty years of Coast Guard history has been changed through the lives of one family. But with 11 children in the next generation, there is always the chance that another Boucher could find his or her way into the Coast Guard. Only the future will tell if the name of Boucher will return

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