JOSEPH S. BOUCHARD
MISSOULA -- Joseph Samuel Bouchard died on March 12, 2003, at St. Patrick Hospital here. Joe was born Aug. 8, 1927, to Joseph A. and Cynthia "Toots" 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 gunner's 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 "V" 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 Hunting Shack in Missoula. Joe was a member of the Salish and Kootenai Tribes and the Veterans 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, and his wife, Rita, and daughter, Ellen (Washington, D.C.); his son, Daniel J. Bouchard, and his fiancee, Jackie, and son, Evan (Atlanta); his daughter, Cynthia Christina, and her husband, Wallace, and children, Tara and Michael (Missoula); two brothers, Charles Patrick Bouchard (Polson) and John Sandford Bouchard (West Linn, OR); 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 was held March 15 at St. Mary's Cemetery in Missoula. A memorial service will be scheduled at a later date. Gifts may be made in Joe's name to the Maryknoll Fathers or the American Cancer Society.