Paul J. Buckley, Pilot
71st and 17th SOS, Tan Son Nhut, 1969-70
17th SOS Detachment Commender, Tan Son Nhut 1969-70

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 (C-47s and B-25s) from December 1943–March 1945. He was released from Active Duty in January 1946; joined the USAF Reserves at Hanscom Field, MA. In late 1950, he was recalled to Active Duty to fly C-119s in the Korean War from May 1951-November 1953. He returned to the United States in late 1953, to attend Command School at Maxwell AFB, Alabama. He remained on active duty and was given a Regular Commission in 1957. He was subsequently stationed at Donaldson AFB, SC, James Connolly AFB, Texas, Ramstein AB, Germany, Kincheloe AFB, MI, Ent AFB, CO, Ramstein AB, Germany for a second time from 1965 until November,1968. He returned to the U.S. for re-qualification in the AC-119 and other SEA related training.

He arrived in Vietnam in March of 1969 and was assigned to a 71st SOS as a Pilot which became the 17th SOS around August of 1969. Paul’s son was an Army Aviator and flew in Vietnam from November 1970 to November 1971. He tells us, “My Dad commanded the Detachment at Tan Son Nhut, Saigon, RVN for much of his tour. He was on R&R in Hawaii in early Jan 1970 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 retired as a Lt Colonel at Langley AFB, VA in March of 1973 with 6,037 Flight Hours and 1,426 Combat Hours. He had approximately 700 flight hours during his tour in South Vietnam; his awards included the Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star, and numerous Air Medals.

He passed away in Williston, Florida in May of 2001.