Face of Defense: Sailor Reflects on Ancestors’ Military Heritage

NAVAL SUBMARINE BASE NEW LONDON, Conn. — Navy Lt. Robert Buck­les, assigned to the Naval Sub­ma­rine Learn­ing Cen­ter here, was inspired to serve by the hero­ism of his uncle who died in Viet­nam. But Buck­les’ lin­eage with the mil­i­tary includes many fam­i­ly mem­bers, dat­ing to the nation’s begin­ning, and includ­ing Frank W. Buck­les, the last liv­ing Amer­i­can World War I vet­er­an.

Navy Lt. Robert Buck­les, assigned to Naval Sub­ma­rine Learn­ing Cen­ter, Naval Sub­ma­rine Base New Lon­don, Conn., pos­es with his fam­i­ly after return­ing from a deploy­ment while assigned to the USS Mia­mi in 2009. Pic­tured with Buck­les (left to right), are his son, Char­lie; his daugh­ter, Grace; and wife, Kat­ri­na.
Cour­tesy pho­to
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“I’m hon­ored to share the name of anoth­er very impor­tant per­son in my family’s linage, Robert Buck­les, who was the first descen­dant to arrive in Amer­i­ca,” said Buck­les, who entered the U.S. Navy just before his 19th birth­day. “If it weren’t for him, I would­n’t be here today.” Buck­les said mem­bers of his fam­i­ly had con­duct­ed geneal­o­gy research going back near­ly 300 years when his ances­tors first arrived in the Unit­ed States. 

Robert Buck­les, son of a wealthy Eng­lish land­lord, left Eng­land in 1719 on a ship head­ed for America. 

“The crew bar­reled him up in a hogshead of sand, and put him in the hold of the ship,” Buck­les said. “When offi­cers came on board and searched the ship, turn­ing over the bar­rel on the top of the one in which young Robert was con­cealed, they declared no one could be fur­ther down that bar­rel and deemed the ship safe to sail.” 

Buckle’s ear­ly Amer­i­can ances­tors would lat­er set­tle in Ten­nessee, Vir­ginia, Ken­tucky, Ohio, Indi­ana, Illi­nois, and fur­ther west. 

Look­ing through the report on Buck­les’ linage, he said, a call­ing for ser­vice is inter­wo­ven like the red, white and blue col­ors of the U.S. flag. Buck­les said his rel­a­tives served in the Rev­o­lu­tion­ary War, the Civ­il War, World War I and II, the Kore­an War, the Viet­nam War and present-day conflicts. 

Buck­les said his inter­est in serv­ing in the Navy stemmed from the ser­vice of his uncle, Army Capt. Richard L. Buck­les, who was killed in the Viet­nam War in 1969. 

“He was on his sec­ond tour and earned the Sil­ver Star and Pur­ple Heart for his action. He was a 1st Infantry com­pa­ny com­man­der and was fatal­ly wound­ed while com­ing to the aid of one of his wound­ed sol­diers,” Buck­les said. 

Anoth­er ances­tor, Frank W. Buck­les, entered the ser­vice at age 16, enlist­ing in the Army on Aug. 14, 1917, after lying to sev­er­al recruiters about his age. He died at his West Vir­ginia farm in Feb­ru­ary, and was hon­ored by Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma and senior Defense Depart­ment leaders. 

Mil­ton Abra­ham Buck­les fought in the Civ­il War. Through his diaries, the Buck­les and his fam­i­ly were able to learn about Milton’s ser­vice to the nation. 

“We have high hopes of see­ing home, and the loved ones who have so long patient­ly endured tri­al and hard­ship for ours and their country’s sake,” Mil­ton Buck­les wrote in his diary on Feb. 15, 1865, with six months remain­ing in his enlistment. 

“We have endured and suf­fered much dur­ing the time we have been in the war,” Buckle’s diary con­tin­ued, “but no man now regrets what has passed, but all are glad to have done some­thing for their country.” 

Mil­ton Buck­les’ diary reflec­tions from near­ly a cen­tu­ry-and-a-half ago are reflec­tive of the patri­o­tism and self­less ser­vice demon­strat­ed by today’s sailors, sol­diers, air­men and Marines serv­ing our coun­try, Buck­les said. 

Vet­er­ans Day began as Armistice Day to mark the end of World War I, when the main hos­til­i­ties were silenced at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918. Con­gress mod­i­fied the name from Armistice Day to Vet­er­ans Day on Nov. 8, 1964. 

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs) 

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