Face of Defense: Sailor Reflects on Ancestors’ Military Heritage
By Navy Lt. Cmdr. Jennifer Cragg
Submarine Group Two Public Affairs
NAVAL SUBMARINE BASE NEW LONDON, Conn., Nov. 9, 2011 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
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
"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, 1954.