Veterans Day is still about three weeks away (Nov. 11), but there’s no reason to wait to offer a tip of the hat, today, to Guilford veteran Robert Boudreau.
Boudreau was honored earlier this month with a certificate and medal for his bravery and valor more than 60 years earlier.
You see, Boudreau had joined the Navy when he was just 17 years old. After training, he sailed on a submarine to Mediterranean Sea, where he joined up with the crew of the USS Robert L. Wilson, a Gearing-class destroyer in the midst of a six-month tour of duty with the 6th Fleet.
During a particularly rough storm, munitions began rolling freely about the bowels of the ship. With most of the crew sick in their bunks, the just-turned-18 Boudreau, at great personal risk, volunteered to secure the dangerous cargo and potentially save the ship and her crew.
Looking back at that time earlier this week, he reasoned that "any of my shipmates would have done the same for me if they hadn’t been so sick."
"I didn’t think about it," Boudreau told the Reformer. "I didn’t have time to even think. All I could think about was all those guys dying."
A certificate given to him during a medal ceremony at the annual reunion of former USS Robert L. Wilson crew members in Norfolk, Va., refers to Boudreau’s "complete disregard for his personal safety" as he "volunteered single-handedly to enter the confined space
Though promised a commendation by his superiors following the event, for whatever reason one never came. It wasn’t until his daughter, Cindi Rathbun, wrote to the Navy to ask for more details of her father’s story that officials realized the oversight.
"I’m so proud of him," Rathbun said earlier this week. "He’s definitely a hero. It really touched all of us, the whole family."
His story has also touched the editorial board here at the Reformer. For your service and selfless act of courage and bravery, we thank you, Mr. Boudreau, on behalf of all the families of the men whose lives you most probably saved on that stormy night so many years ago; and on behalf of everyone here in the community, which you served and represented during your time of service.
We hope you wear that medal with pride -- you deserve it!