NEWSLETTER August 2019
Happy Coast Guard Day! This year marks the U.S. Coast Guard’s 229th year of service to our Nation, and like so many of our supporters, I am proud of the continued accomplishments of a truly remarkable organization.
The Coast Guard is stronger than ever after nearly 23 decades. In that time, hundreds of thousands of selfless men and women have defended our Nation against maritime threats, enforced the law by interdicting drugs and migrants, facilitated commerce to the tune of billions of dollars for our economy, saved thousands of lives, and responded to and/or prevented environmental challenges.
I also want to note another special birthday this year – Happy 100th Birthday to the Coast Guard Lady! I am proud to know Lois Bouton who served in the SPARs during World War II. For the past four and half decades, she has been a faithful correspondent to so many shipmates (including me!) and has served as a top-notch ambassador for our Service. I look forward to sharing a slice of cake at her centennial birthday celebration next month.
This year we have been working diligently to increase our outreach and awareness to the Coast Guard Family, and one of those efforts has been instituting and expanding our Ambassador Program. As one of our early Museum volunteers, Auxiliarist Bruce Buckley has been faithfully dedicating his time, and gave us the idea to create a Museum Ambassador program to further our reach to the Coast Guard Family. Bruce and fellow Ambassadors MCPO Paul Byrne, USCG (Ret.); SCPO Tina M. Claflin, USCG (Ret.); Joseph Powell MK3, USCG (1999-2003) and MCPO Kyle Takakjian, USCGR (Ret.) work with our Board and staff to promote the future museum in their regions, which now stretches from New England, to the Mid-Atlantic, to the Gulf Coast, and Texas. We are grateful for their enthusiasm and unwavering support.
A special thank you goes out to Gordy and Michelle Bunch who graciously hosted a recent Houston event, and provided a significant leadership gift to the capital campaign. The Museum Association thanks them for their passion for our Service and for ensuring our Nation knows more about the Coast Guard’s importance to every American. We are so grateful for their support and for yours!
Happy Coast Guard Day,
CAPT. Wes Pulver, USCG (Ret.)
Gordy and Michelle Bunch pledge $1 Million
A capacity crowd filled a presentation room generously provided to the Museum Association by the ABS World Headquarters in Spring, TX. The June event brought together supporters and friends of the museum project from the greater Houston area.
The event hosts were Michelle and Gordy Bunch, SK3, USCG (1991-1995), of The Woodlands Financial Group. They worked with a local committee including The Honorable Kevin Brady, U.S. Congressman, Texas; Robert C. Byrd, PhD, PE LCDR, USCG (1966-1981); The Honorable Brandon Creighton, Texas State Senator; Rob Johnson, ExxonMobil; Jonathan Thomas, PE, Moffatt & Nichol; Lee Tillman, Marathon Oil and RADM James A. Watson, USCG (Ret.), ABS.
Board Chair Susan J. Curtin and Museum Association President, CAPT Wes Pulver, USCG (Ret.) proudly presented Gordy and Michelle with an acknowledgment of their seven-figure commitment to the When the Most is Expected Capital Campaign, bringing the total raised to $48M.
A presentation on the progress of the Museum project preceded a moving interview panel facilitated by ADM Thad W. Allen, USCG (Ret.), 23rd Commandant of the USCG. Crew members from Coast Guard Air Station Houston fascinated the audience with their emotional stories of responding to Hurricane Harvey.
Commanding Officer CAPT Jim Spitler and the aircrew recounted the challenges they faced getting to the station so that they could deploy to help others. Their extraordinary efforts resulted in hundreds of people being brought to safety from the storm and the subsequent flooding.
AMT3 Adam Rodriguez had just qualified for his duty in a rescue helicopter. Harvey was his first active response.
“We lowered the basket and three people came up. We lowered it again and another three came up. I calculated and communicated that the helicopter could take one more person and remain under the weight limit. The basket came up with a child and a baby clutched to her mother’s chest to keep her out of the rain. We were the last helicopter in the air that night and we got everyone back safely.”
THE COAST GUARD LADY TURNS 100!
In September of 1919, Woodrow Wilson was President of the United States. The 19th Amendment, guaranteeing women the right to vote had just passed months earlier. The first National Football League team for Wisconsin, the Green Bay Packers was founded by Curly Lambeau.
And Lois Bouton was born in Rochelle, IL.
Next month, Lois will turn 100 years old. And for the last 45 years, Mrs. Bouton has written letters to Coast Guard men and women, earning her the nickname the Coast Guard Lady.
“I don’t write as many letters as I used to,” said a humble and cheerful Bouton. “These days, I only respond to the letters I get and I try to write back to everyone.”
When pressed for a number of letters she writes daily, Bouton responds three to four. On an annual basis, that equates to over 1,000 letters. Multiply that by the number of years she has been a faithful correspondent and the total eclipses 50,000. The Coast Guard veteran also admitted that her Christmas Card list has shrunk too. “I send out about 300-400 cards,” she says.
At the beginning of the summer, the world marked the 75th Anniversary of D-Day. Bouton was serving as a member of the USCG Women’s Reserve group, SPARs (Semper Paratus, Always Ready), on that fateful day.
She reported to boot camp on September 3, 1943 at the Biltmore Hotel in Palm Springs, FL. After a month of basic training, she then spent five months in radioman school in Atlantic City, N.J., where she learned to translate Morse code.
On the Atlantic City boardwalk, she met her husband who served in the Army. After World War II, she taught first grade at a school north of Chicago in Lake County, while her husband was a barber at a veterans hospital near Naval Station Great Lakes Training Center. In her spare time, she wrote to family and friends from high school and college. She also made time to visit patients at the hospital who returned from the Vietnam War.
The moniker of the Coast Guard Lady came into play in 1974 when she and her husband moved to northwest Arkansas. Missing the contact with veterans at the hospital, she wrote to Coast Guard units in Alaska and asked them for addresses of isolated stations and lighthouses. To this day, she stays in contact with many of those shipmates. During that period, she also started writing cards and letters to friends stationed with her during the war.
Just about everyone in the Coast Guard knows who she is and writing the letters brings her satisfaction and helps her to continue to feel connected to her service. Bouton said, “Things have changed a lot. They thank me for opening the way for women – for all of the things they are able to do now.”
“I do still enjoy getting mail,” Bouton says, who hand writes all of her correspondence to this day. “I don’t even own a computer!”
On September 21, 2019, MCPOCG7 Rick Trent and Lois’ daughter, Betsy, are hosting a birthday party in Bentonville, AR. For those interested in attending, RSVP to MCPOCG7@satx.rr.com by August 10. We hope to see you there!
“I have everything I need. So instead of gifts this year, I’ve asked people to donate to the future National Coast Guard Museum. The best gift would be to see the museum completed.”
Thank you, Coast Guard Lady, for everything you do. Happy 100th!
Ensuring a Safe Boating Season: USCG Auxiliary
The unofficial boating season in the northeast tends to run from Memorial Day to Labor Day. In many parts of the country, it stretches longer, or all year round.
We wanted to get a sense from one of our Museum Ambassadors just how busy the season is for the volunteer members of the USCG Auxiliary in New London. Bruce Buckley spared a few moments for this interview.
Q: How long have you been in the Auxiliary and what is your position?
I have been in the Auxiliary for 17 years. I now serve as the Auxiliary Liaison Officer to the Research and Development Center based in New London and as a National Branch Chief, Public Affairs History Division.
Q: How did you get involved?
After 9/11, I wanted to get involved in community service. Having spent many hours on the water, the Coast Guard Auxiliary seemed like a good match.
Q: What does the Eastern CT Division do for the maritime and the broader community?
Auxiliary members in our Division are very fortunate as we have opportunities to support the Research and Development Center, the Academy, Station New London and the Museum Association. Our core focus is Recreational Boating Safety. Our support of that important mission includes safe boating training, complimentary vessel inspections, and community outreach among other efforts.
Q: What’s your favorite Auxiliary sea story?
While supporting Station New London, by manning the small USCG facility on Fishers Island, our Boat Crew were dispatched one night to render aid to a small fishing boat that was taking on water and sinking. Our crew was able to locate the boat in distress and we were able to safely place the two boaters on board, take the sinking vessel in tow and deploy a de-watering pump. The look on the faces of the two fishermen we rescued is something I will always remember!
Q: What inspires you to help make the Museum a reality?
The committed men and women of the Auxiliary enjoy the challenges, learn and know that what they do matters. The same is true for the Museum project. I hope to wear Docent badge 0001 when the Museum opens its doors!