One last salute

It has been a long time coming for the family of PFC Allan John Bouquin of the U.S. Marine Corps, but they were finally given closure after 61 long years waiting for the due recognition of Bouquin’s sacrifice.

Bouquin was a member of Company I, 3rd Battalion under the command of the 1st Marine Regiment and the 1st Marine Division. He was killed in action while fighting the enemy in Korea on Aug. 13, 1952.

During a recent medal ceremony at a family residence on Shumla Road in the village of Fredonia, Bouquin was awarded the Purple Heart, the Combat Action Ribbon, the Korean Service Medal, the United Nations Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Korean Presidential Unit Citation and the Republic of Korea War Service Medal. All seven medals were presented to Bouquin’s brother, Gilbert, in a military display shadow box with an American flag.

“None of the medals came home with his effects … but this proves that Marines don’t leave anyone behind,” Allan Bouquin, the nephew of Bouquin who was named after his uncle, said. “Sixty-one years later, he finally got all the medals and awards he was due, so he can finally rest in peace.”

Gilbert was just 10 years old when he lost his brother, who passed at the age of 19.

“It was hard because he was nine years older and I really didn’t get to know him, which I wish I had of,” he said. “I think about it every day and will until I die, what could have been.”

“He was a wonderful man who cared deeply about his family and his grandparents that were living back home and I feel like I’ve always known him through the letters I’ve read that he sent to his parents,” Gilbert’s wife, Una, said in regards to Bouquin.

“We miss him a lot,” she said. “We miss him as if he just passed away.”

Una also said Bouquin really thought he was going to come home from the war. He did not want to get engaged to his girlfriend until he came back, at which time he would buy a farm.

According to Pentagon records, 33,651 American soldiers sacrificed their lives in battle during the Korean War. Bouquin became part of that number after he was killed from a chest wound while his unit was consolidating the defense of the outpost “Bunker Hill” near Chang-dau, South Korea.

Allan was the one who recently pushed to get the medals awarded to his late uncle.

“When I was working out in Elmira, I contacted the Chemung County Veterans Affairs and they got it rolling,” he said. “When I got transferred to Chautauqua County, I contacted the Veterans Affairs Office here and they finished it.”

Allan said after Bouquin’s body came back from the war, the family tried contacting Veterans Affairs but kept getting stonewalled and transferred to different officials. The Vietnam War also came up a few years after the Korean War, which delayed matters even more.

Douglas Diers, director of the Chautauqua County Veterans Service Agency, presented the medals during the ceremony. A small Honor Guard detail from the Cassadaga American Legion Post 1280 was also present.

“I just don’t think it was followed up with before the age of computers, causing it to fall through the cracks,” Diers said regarding why it took 61 years to award Bouquin his due recognition. “Now that we have computers, it’s easier since everything is online now. It’s still quite a long process, two years in this case, but I’m glad we were able to finally complete it.”

Bouquin is buried in Laona Cemetery in the town of Pomfret.

“With these medals, we can finally complete the mourning process,” Allan said.

Allan John Bouquin. Beloved Marine. Beloved uncle. Beloved brother.

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