Written by Cmdr. Rick Wester.
For the past 40 years Bouton has been writing letters to Coast Guardsmen to thank them for their service and lift their morale.
“It was my distinct privilege to personally present the award to Lois on behalf of the entire Coast Guard, said the Commandant. “The faithful dedication she displayed as a SPAR during World War II continues today. She truly is a Shipmate whose selfless service over the years has touched countless people along the way.”
Bouton, 94, has written more than 40,000 letters.
“To have Admiral Papp and Linda come to present the award to me was a great honor,” said Bouton.
In presenting the award to Bouton, the Commandant read the following citation:
“The Commandant of the United States Coast Guard takes great pleasure in presenting the Coast Guard Meritorious Public Service Award to Mrs. Lois Bouton, the “Coast Guard Lady,” in recognition of four decades of exceptional service to the men and women of the Coast Guard. Since 1974, Mrs. Bouton has written and mailed more than 40,000 letters to Coast Guard personnel stationed around the world. Many of these letters were first sent to Coast Guardsmen stationed at remote long range aids to navigation stations and lighthouses. Her letter writing quickly expanded to reach Coast Guardsman stationed across the U.S. and around the world. Her enthusiastic hand written letters lifted the spirits of Coast Guard men and women with kindness and compassion. Beyond her letter writing, Ms. Bouton’s 70 year dedication to the Coast Guard is unparalleled. On September 3, 1943, during the height of the Second World War, she joined the United States Coast Guard Women’s Reserve (SPARs) to help save lives and perform vital work to support Coast Guardsman serving overseas. After boot camp, she completed radioman school in Atlantic City, New Jersey and was stationed at a radio direction finding station in Bethany Beach, Delaware. As a radioman she helped coordinate incoming distress calls and passed bearing information to ships at sea allowing them to locate vessels in distress. After honorably serving as a SPAR, Mrs. Bouton moved to Illinois where she taught school and visited veteran’s recovering from injuries at the Great Lakes Naval Hospital. Her love for the Coast Guard continued and she began writing letters in order to stay connected to the Coast Guard from her new home in Arkansas. Mrs. Bouton’s inspiring letters, dedicated patriotism and generosity towards the men and women of the Coast Guard have made a significant impact on generations of service members. Her actions are highly commendable and embody her continuing dedication to the Coast Guard’s core values of Honor, Respect and Devotion to Duty.”