Faces Behind the Screen: Gerard Boucher

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Young Gerard in his US Marine Corp uniform

The following story was originally published by John Cuddy in November 2019. Gerard has allowed us to share his moving story.

“Haverhill’s Gerard Boucher joined the US Marine Corp to avoid getting drafted by the US Army. On the wall of his home sits a Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts, so he certainly picked an unusual way to avoid the draft.

Talking to Gerard and his close friend Carolyn for an hour or so in his kitchen, I felt transported back to the Merrimack Valley in the 1960s. Gerard graduated from Haverhill Trade Class of 1966, found himself in Vietnam in 1967 with the 26th Marines, and is now retired from the US Marines. He currently serves as the Secretary/Treasurer of the Massachusetts Regional Group of the Blinded Veterans Association.

Carolyn attended Newburyport High and said she was glad she was not a young man back in the 1960s, as many of the young men in her class ended up in Vietnam. She later graduated from Smith College and was once roughed up by the Boston Police during an antiwar protest. Both enjoyed the 50s and 60s music in their youth, and still do. Gerard following Doo-Wop bands to this day, he and Carolyn recently attended a Doo-Wop concert together in Plaistow, NH.

[Gerard was] barely out of his teens when he was blinded in combat, in Vietnam, during a mortar barrage on October 11, 1967. He recovered in the Chelsea Naval Hospital from his other wounds, but it was while there, he learned that his sight would not come back.

Truly quite a hero, wounded three times defending our nation, he lives the spirit of “Semper Fi”, focusing on how he can do more for his fellow Veterans. Not one to focus on what he cannot do, he is focused on what he can do. Gerard earned a BA from Bradford College, a MA from Thornwood in the Netherlands, and a PhD from Atlantic International University based in Hawaii. His thesis was on “Multicultural and Social Justice”. This was written using JAWS speech software for the blind. He has [also] written a book on his experiences in Vietnam.

After he was wounded, [Gerard began] a relationship with a blind Veteran of World War II [that] started Gerard on his lifetime journey of serving his fellow Veterans.

Faces Behind the Screen would like to thank Gerard for participating in our storytelling project. If you’re interested in sharing your story with us, fill out our nomination form.

Pictures of four people who were interviewed for the Faces Behind the Screen project

Faces Behind the Screen is a storytelling project focusing on members of the Deaf and hard of hearing community, as well as those who are blind and low vision.

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