Bob Boulden, 91, offers a heartfelt salute during Burlington’s Memorial Day observance at the Veterans Memorial in Echo Lake Park last May. Boulden was honored Wednesday at the First Congressional District Veteran of the Year for 2021 by U.S. Rep. Bryan Steil. (File photo by Chad Hensiak)

Boulden honored as congressional district’s Veteran of the Year

Standard Press Staff

Bob Boulden joined the United States Marine Corps when he was 18 years old in 1948. He traveled with a small box camera and documented his experiences in Hell Fire Alley and the harrowing trek out of North Korea.

In 1950, Sgt. Boulden fought in The Battle of Chosin Reservoir in which the Marines were encircled by the Chinese and had to battle their way out amid frigid temperatures and massive casualties. He was wounded in action.

Boulden, 91, of Burlington, experienced the horrors of war like few other distinguished service members and proudly wears the title of Chosin Few – a name given to the survivors of the pivotal battle.

On Wednesday, Boulden was recognized by U.S. Rep. Bryan Steil, R-Janesville, as the First Congressional District 2021 Veteran of the Year.

U.S. Marine Sgt. Bob Boulden as he appeared in 1950 during the height of the Korean War. (Courtesy of Bob Boulden)

“Robert’s commitment to service, excellence, and dedication was clear in our nomination process,” Steil said in a statement. “His distinguished career in the military and commitment to service in our veterans community is a shining example of leadership for all Americans. We cannot thank each of our veterans in Wisconsin enough for their service and sacrifice to our country.

“I remain committed to shining a light on heroes in our community working day in and day out to support our veterans.”

Steil presented the award to Boulden during a ceremony at Veterans Terrace in Burlington on Wednesday.

In addition to his military service, for more than 50 years Boulden has volunteered his time in various veterans organizations including the Marine Corps League, VFW, and Korean War Veterans Association, according to Steil’s office.

Boulden is a lifetime member of the American Legion Post 79 in Burlington, Chosen Few, Rifle Squad for Military Funerals, Lifetime Member of Veterans of Foreign Wars, Marine Corps League, and Veterans of Foreign Wars, Anderson Murphy Post 2823.

He is a familiar figure at Memorial Day and Veterans Day observances – wearing a crisp white shirt and leading the color guard or rifle squad in solemn tribute to those who’ve served.

Boulden was included in a 2016 Netflix documentary about The Battle of Chosin Reservoir in the Korean War.

In the documentary, he said, “I wanted to let people know what really happened. In 18 days, we lost 900 Marines and 2,000 Army brothers. It was so cold that your eyelids would freeze shut if you didn’t keep blinking.”

Temperatures plunged to estimates as low as -36 F. Boulden had just turned 21 when he was sent to Hagaru-ri.

      To read the entire story and learn about two other area veterans awarded congressional recognition by Steil, see the Nov. 11 edition of the Burlington Standard Press.