Military from every angle

Susan Buckingham has known the military from many sides.

In 1976, she joined the U.S. Army and was in the last class of the Women’s Army Corps at Ft. Jackson, S.C. Her three years in communications allowed her to use the GI Bill to go to school.

Buckingham is in her third year as the special services director for the Cole County R-1 School District.

Before she left the Army in 1979, she met her husband John at advanced training. And she became a career army wife, living three years in Germany.

These days she an army mom with all three of their sons in active duty military.

“I’m okay with it,” Buckingham said. “It’s easier for me than for moms who have not been in.”

And to round out her angles to veterans, her father served eight years in the army before she was born and her grandfather retired from the British Royal Marines.

“Veterans Day brings a tear to my eye,” Buckingham said. “I think about where we’ve come from and the sacrifices we’ve made.

“I think about the boys and where they are at. It gets very emotional.”

Monday morning Buckingham is the guest speaker at the Russellville High School Veterans Day Assembly.

“I like seeing the veterans there,” Buckingham said. “It’s good for the students to see the veterans and for the veterans to see the students. “It’s like a living history.”

As most veterans, Buckingham said she and her family are humble about their service. All the same, “it’s nice to be appreciated.”

Each of her sons has a different job — the oldest Ryan is a helicopter pilot, the middle son Karl is an engineer moving into civil affairs, and the youngest Tylor is a paratrooper.

Ryan is a West Point graduate.

Whereas, Karl enlisted in the reserve while still in high school and completed his Reserve Officer Training Corps studies at Lindenwood University. He has served three overseas tours.

And Tylor is a qualified jump master. His brothers have since earned their jump wings, but the youngest still has the most jumps logged.

“They’re hilarious when they are all together,” Buckingham said. “I just sit back and enjoy the show.”

The deployments, however, never get easy.

What makes it better is knowing her sons have each other to rely on, Buckingham said.

“They really enjoy what they’re doing,” she said.


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