Buckley, John Paul

John Paul Buckley, Pilot
71st and 17th SOS, Tan Son Nhut, 1968-71

Paul Buckley was born June 28, 1919 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. He graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1937 and Southern Colorado State University in 1965. He joined the U.S. Army Air Corps in July, 1942 at Fort Stockton, Texas because “Driving tanks seemed like a bad idea.”

A World War II veteran, Paul flew in Italy from December 1943 – March 1945. He was released from Active Duty in January 1946; joined the USAF Reserves at Hanscom Field, MA; recalled to Active Duty to fly C-119s in the Korean War from May 1951-November 1953; and followed by continuation in the Air Force Reserves.

Following the 71st Tactical Airlift Squadron’s Re-activation as the 71st Special Operations Squadron, Paul was a 71st SOS Pilot from September 1968 through March 1970, then with the 17th SOS from March 1970 –January 1971.

Paul’s daughter tells us “He commanded the Detachment at Tan Son Nhut, Saigon, RVN for much of his tour. He was on R&R in Hawaii in early Jan and his wife fell and broke both wrists. She was an Active Duty Officer as well. My father was given Emergency Leave to assist her back to the mainland and subsequently re-assigned to Langley AFB and did not return to SEA.”

He graduated from Southern Colorado State University in 1965, and retired as a Lt. Colonel at Langley AFB, VA in August 1968 with 6,037 Flight Hours and 1,426 Combat Hours.

His awards included the Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star, and numerous Air Medals.


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