The Finest Soldier I Ever Knew

I want to reprint something this year that I posted in the past. I thought I could top it but, I think I got it right the first time. It’s Black History Month, I think of my old friend Leonard Buckley often. Again, I would like to pay tribute to someone who was among the finest of soldiers I had the pleasure to serve with. He was a better soldier than me. His name was Leonard Buckley and we buried him with full military honors in December 2015.

I first met Leonard Buckley in 1991. I was assigned as the Telecommunications Section NCO at the 219th Engineering Installation Squadron. I was a Master Sergeant (E-7) and he was one rank below mine as a Technical Sergeant (E-6). I was fulltime military and he was a Guard “Weekend Warrior”. At that time, we were working projects for the USAF worldwide. I was in Korea one month and Italy the next and all points in between. We had projects that were pure nightmares you can only imagine in foreign countries that have few codes, rules, or restraints concerning how things “got done”. It was very tricky at best.

I had to send a team or many teams to the far reaches of the world to accomplish what we had designed or hoped to design. The number one man was Buckley. A kind and gentle man with a stutter. You would think that a debilitating handicap. Don’t be fooled. He was tough as leather and smart. A decisive man and driven. If I had a nightmare location and project Buckley was the man to send. Every time he came back home with the respect and admiration of his team and the military customers who benefited from the work. Accolades always followed TSgt Buckley.

I remember as I rose in rank and he remained in my command structure I would relay how I wanted things done in my areas. He would give me that look. I would say “Buck, it’s my turn now, do as I direct and one day it will be yours and you can do whatever you want”. He did. He became the next Chief Master Sergeant surpassing everything I thought I had accomplished.

Why do I rely this to you this week? It is Black History month. Leonard Buckley, outstanding soldier, incredible leader, and gone way to young, remains my hero. He was African American. Patriot and Brother, the truest of the Buffalo Soldier tradition. Salute Leonard, I miss you every day.

Department of Oklahoma in OKC has Legion 100th Anniversary coins for sale at $10 each. We will try and get some and offer them to the public for $15 each.

Next Legion Meeting will be Thursday March 1st at 7:00 PM. We will have a meal starting at 6:00 PM, cooked by Chef Jerry Sebert. Not sure what it will be, but it will be good!
Monday morning Koffee Klatch meetings in March are still scheduled for biscuits and gravy with always a cup of Joe (coffee to the civilians). Keep your eye on the weather in case things must be postponed (like freezing weather). If you are a veteran come on by. If you have a good story it may end up in print. Also keep up with us at website “americanlegion142.org”.

 

About Gary Lanham

Authors the weekly article "News from the Hut", about local American Legion Post #142 in Hominy, OK. Read his weekly articles in the "Hominy News Progress".
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